Freud and Moses - and an extensive view of history
By OVE VON SPAETH
Anthropologists were among the first to scientifically widen our view of the
contents of the ancient biblical texts - while theologians and linguists
were, unfortunately, misled by unfounded theories, established before archaeology and history had developed as sciences.
Also the spiritual world
picture of the early cultures was explored - and the results provided
inspiration in many fields of study. On this basis Sigmund Freud was much
influenced by anthropological research - especially evident in his famous book
Recovered Historical Information from Egyptian Myths
The authors of antiquity, as well as the Bible and the
Rabbinical Writings highly esteemed the famous historical Moses for
versatile talents as a founder of religion and law, besides the fact that he
was a general, philosopher - also versed in astronomy - and a mystic,
magician, healer, and inventor.
However, in later times
many researchers regard such a person as an impossibility, "too many
different abilities for one life!" - while others find the many aspects of
Moses the enigma (what kind of man was he in reality? and did he in fact
exist? etc.) still greatly fascinating. - Moses is very intriguing according
to texts by Goethe, Machiavelli, Henry George, Winston Churchill, Rainer
Maria Rilke, Thomas Mann - and, especially, Sigmund Freud.
among the first to scientifically widen our view of the contents of the
ancient biblical texts, while theologians and linguists in the beginning
were often mislead, e.g. by the still not proved "documentary"theory. This
concept was, unfortunately, firmly established before the development of
scientifically based archaeology and history, and from the residues of
which, research - having only abandoned the theory after 100 years - still
during Egypt's 18th dynasty, ca. 1585-1300 BC, and mentioned in biblical
texts and Rabbinical Writings, but only recognized by present historical
research, prove that many of the ancient parts of the Bible cannot have
In the years around 1850
the first research results appeared about the contents of the Bible as to
possible loans from other cultures, but public exposure of this was done
very cautiously. As late as the beginning of the 20th century even in such a
well-informed western European countries, people were punished according to
blasphemy laws for openly claiming that the Bible is mainly based on myths.
However, in the Bible,
the Rabbinical Writings, and the texts of the ancient authors, there are
many indications that Moses was an Egyptian of royal birth. These dates -
especially when presented collectively - appear clearly as being
non-mythical. So far, the problem has been to have these traces investigated
as a major whole.
Confrontation with new knowledge on Moses
When in his last year Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) in his book presented his interesting view on the events of the
life of Moses there was an often aggressive reaction from theologians,
historians, and Jewish representatives all claiming that Freud had got it
all wrong. The truth is that nobody at that time seemed to have known enough
about the possible traces of Moses to counter-argue with sufficient
substance except with a reagard to a few detailes.
Let me, with all respect,
introduce a new background. For more than a quarter of a century I had done
intensive research on the historical Moses - a long-term study necessary for
the tracing and testing of the huge amount of material and the results
obtained through this - and including numerous displaced parts of the
dramatic history of Moses and his activities - all published in my
book-series on this. A series of five books about Moses and his history
has never been written before - actually not even a two-volume work has been
presentation of a vast amount of sources from antiquity and from modern
archaeology, linguistics and anthropology - many brought together for the
first time - resulted in a logical-realistic and historically coherent
picture of Moses and his chronology.
From very far back in
time Moses has also made an impressive impact on western culture - and so
had Freud in the 20th century. Therefore, through all the years after Freud
the many researching scholars' writings are seen repeatedly to be about
Freud's attitude regarding Moses but almost nothing about Moses
himself; - Freud's findings, as well as those of his critics, must now be
reconsidered and adjusted in the light of so much additional information about
Moses. In all the following, no scrutinizing treatises are included as
procedure or goal, - but, according to plan, a series of new, illuminating
views are presented.
has been neglected that a certain type of river ceremony - especially known
to us from the Bible - where the small royal child was delivered to the
royal palace was a common tradition - was carried out in practice as a
ceremonial play in most of the ancient civilized countries.
Instead, in many
present-day works the appearance of this royal cult in the Moses-narrative
has been misleadingly designated a "migratory-legend", even after widespread
astonishment that the same type of event was also repeated in connection
with historical royal sons of other countries.
The best known accounts
of this event as found in the Bible has been scrutinized linguistically,
historically, mythologically, theologically, etc. Historical research does
not provide immediate insight into mythological research, a discipline
which, in turn, lacks thorough knowledge of the connection between ancient
astronomy and cosmological ideas, - just as linguists do not normally have
sufficiently thorough professional insight into archaeology, and
archaeologists are not primarily researchers of religion. And in addition,
both exact inter-disciplinary research and the professionally less one-sided
investigations have often been met with suspicion and resistance.
Despite the many
problems a few researchers have been able to point out Moses' original
background across the limits of specific branches of learning. Notable is a
statement from the German international authority, Eduard Meyer (1835-1930),
who, as one of the few within the science of history, has specialized in
Egyptology. Already at that time and despite the fact that there were only a
limited number of data available in this field of reseach, he was able to
present a qualified treatise - in the "Sitzungsberichte der Königlich
preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaft", in Berlin 1905 (Band 31, pp.
640-652) - which includes this cohesive concept:
"... Probably Moses was, originally, the son of the ruler's daughter - now
presented as his foster mother - and he was probably presented as being of
divine origin ...".
In his work, "Die
Israeliten und ihre Nachbarstämme" (Halle 1906, p. 46 f), Eduard Meyer also
dealt with his well-founded doubt about the biblical version with its
impression of Moses as both a Hebrew boy and Egyptian prince. And again he
pointed out that beyond reasonable doubt,Moses was the son of the
(1877-1927), Berlin and later Chicago, was a German expert on comparative
history of religion and traditional historical research. In his treatise,
"Moses und seine Zeit" (Göttingen 1913), he also called attention especially
to Moses' status as the son of Pharaoh's daughter and ascribed major
plausibility to it.
Some years earlier,
the Moses-narrative had fascinated the pioneer group of psycho-analysts.
They took a special anthropological attitude. Apart from his basic
psycho-analysis work, Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) worked for a long time
on the conception of the Moses figure.
Otto Rank, Freud's
secretary, who was also a psycho-therapist, had specialized in comparative
cultural history and mythology, and in his analysis of comparative
traditions of the ancient civilized countries, he proved that the
original version of the Moses-chronicle definitely dealt with the fact that
Pharaoh's Daughter had given birth to Moses.
This appears in Otto
Rank's treatise, "Die Mythus von der Geburt des Helden" published in the
series of books edited by Sigmund Freud, i.e. "Schriften zur angewandten
Seelenkunde" (Heft 5, Leipzig 1909).
Also Wilhelm Wundt, their
colleague, in his "Völkerpsychologie" (Band 2:3, Leipzig 1909), came close
to the same conclusion.
"The Finding of Moses", a romanticizing motif beautifully pictured in oil,
1904, by Sir Lawrence
Alma-Tadema, the British-Dutch painter - a myth not historically correct
about the Egyptian pharaonic
Daughter and with Moses as the claimed Hebrew child found at an arranged
Freud - and Historical Views Influenced by Ecclesiastical Moses Cliché
In 1934-1938, after many years of tentative effort, Sigmund
Freud wrote three treatises - which comprised his last book, "Moses and
Monotheism" ("Der Mann Moses und die monotheistische Religion"), in which he
used his analytic talent to dissect the Moses narrative. Freud was the first
writer to emphasize the fact that no historians had found it strange that
"Moses" was an Egyptian name! Freud came from a Rabbi family and he stated
in open contrast to orthodox Jewish attitudes that the consequence had to be
that Moses was Egyptian and not Jewish (i.e. not a Hebrew).
As one of his main points
of argumentation Freud, the sexuality-researching analyst, pointed out that
Moses introduced the Egyptian tradition of circumcision.
Ludwig Hugo Koehler, the
German expert in Hebrew history, commented in "Neue Zürcher Zeitung" (No.
667, 16th April, 1939) on Freud's treatises about Moses and made out a list
covering what he regarded as incorrect and impossible statements, but
"... with his great talent Freud had made out a probable explanation from
the given complex network of impossibilities ...".
This seems to present
quite a precise evaluation - when it comes to the historical aspect of Moses
as an Egyptian prince, Freud was logical and concrete.
Likewise, when Freud -
who was well-informed on Egyptology and among other things known for his
exquisite collection of ushapti figures - attached importance to the
fact that in the ancient Egyptian society there were tendencies towards a
concentration on one selected god (which is not the same as pure
Freud was of the opinion that Moses, the king's son (!), might have
represented this perception of monotheism, and also that Moses during his later
connection with the Jews was brought to appear in the narratives as if he
were of Jewish origin.
However, when the treatise comes to the psycho-analytic aspect, its not
uninteresting angle of approach on this particular point seems to be put
forward at some distance from the exact data of the texts. According to
Freud "Moses had tried - like certain neurotics - to break with his family
in order to find a more suitable one".
Still without historically supported examples of this, Freud suggested - and
before him, researcher Ernst Sellin - that "later the Jews killed Moses
(analogous with Freud's hypothesis on the sons' murder of 'the primal
father') because of their hesitation in following Moses' demand for
acceptance of his moral code ('the Ten Commandments' etc.)"; and also that
"recollections of the murder caused this people's sense of guilt, for which
they compensated by - in delayed obedience - inventing an immaterial,
distant god, who resembled both Moses' god and Moses himself".
Also in this
psycho-historical interpretation Freud made it clear that he doubted that
one single person would be able to do what Moses had done; he believed that
in reality Moses was two people. Also other researchers have hypotheses
about two leaders - and even two Exoduses. But why should one person of
Moses' calibre not be able to do the task?
Later in life Freud
identified himself in some ways with Moses, the wanderer in the wilderness,
who never reached "the Promised Land". For instance, in a letter
(17.01.1909) to the younger Carl Jung, Freud wrote: "... If I am Moses, you are Joshua ...".
At an early stage, and for years, Freud was deeply interested in the idealizing
Moses statue by Michelangelo: "... as the image of a perfect human being
...", according to Freud's famous essay "The Moses of Michelangelo", (Standard Edition, vol. 13, 1914/1955, pp. 211-238) - although it is clearly
modelled on the statues of the god Zeus as depicted in antiquity. In
numerous works by others Freud was often "analyzed" as to his views on
The Jewish born and bred
Freud eventually had gone over to the opposite side - he had tried to free himself of
the Jewish perception of Moses, but now he became rather fixed on the stereotype of
Moses as seen by the Christian Church.
There are many examples
that a similar cliché-like understanding of such an unreal Moses figure also
affected various lines of study, e.g. history, Egyptology, ancient linguistics,
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) - his medical training and his strong interest in
and especially in neurology became his approach to research on
he and his fellow researchers also especially included psychology and
Picture: Freud surrounded by his religio-mythological sculptures
(1914, etching by Max Pollak).
Historical Research Inhibited by Odd Portrait of Moses
Using the biblical Moses texts generations of researchers have looked for
historic traces of Moses, which cannot be found there because these research
areas were often influenced by the Church's image of Moses as a Jewish
patriarch instead of seeing him as an Egyptian. All of which also guided the
investigations in another direction.
views were effectively breached when a few researchers began to take the
myths seriously and analyzed them more closely, especially in the field of
anthropology (Sir James Frazer among others).
In the meantime, much
hitherto somewhat inexplicable information in the Bible has been
misinterpreted on the basis of various longstanding and unaccountably
undisputed "armchair" theories. - This, despite the fact that much widely
recognized scientific documentation has actually revealed the said biblical
information as being fully explicable after all.
- Or, if in the ancient
biblical texts an expression may be found from a later time, then the
biblical narrative is rejected as being "fiction" built on myths, instead of
considering the different times of biblical editing where the editors may
have included some language of their own time.
Thus, the claim that the
event with Moses on the Nile and similar traditions from other countries are
"migratory legends" is simply armchair theory. That migratory legends exist,
also today, is a known phenomenon. But to turn handed down accounts into "legends", however, has often been an easy, explanatory attempt which has
created confusion among scholars when a specific event is repeated in one
country after another.
It never occurred to the
researchers in question that this was a matter of a common, religious
conception, the themes of which - as mentioned previously - were
in reality carried out in cultic rituals in various societies.
Although it is well-known that ritual dramas or mystery plays were practised
in the ancient cultures, this factually widespread practice does not seem to
have been considered by researchers as having any connection with the Moses
Sigmund Freud had exposed the theologians' and historians' refraining from taking it into more
serious consideration that 'Moses' was an Egyptian name. It should even be
added that the hitherto widespread interpretation of the words in the
biblical text where the name Moses is claimed to have been a Hebrew play on
words strangely enough implies that Pharaoh's Daughter mastered the Hebrew
language - even to the extent of being able to make puns in this foreign
In Hebrew, Moses is
called Moshe, which according to the biblical text of the Book of
Exodus (2:10) is, word for word, understood to play on the assumption that
Pharaoh's Daughter named him thus, "because she had drawn him out of the
Egyptologists and historians specializing in Egypt, e.g. James Henry
Breasted, Alan H. Gardiner, and Eduard Meyer have confirmed at an early
stage that the name Moses was not Hebrew but stems from Egyptian usage.
In addition, the
"Jüdisches Lexikon" ('Hebrew Dictionary', the Herlitz & Kirschner's
editions) says on the subject "Moses as a name" that the biblical influenced
explanation concerning the claimed Hebrew name Moshe (Moses) should
mean 'he who is being drawn out of the water' is a misunderstanding:
"... it is completely impossible to harmonize the active form of the Hebrew
word - as Moshe (Moses) can only mean 'he who draws out'. ..."
The Hebrew play on words
in the Bible has been created from meshitihua, meaning 'he draws out'
- where consequently the word "he" cannot indicate that Pharaoh's Daughter
drew him out of the water.
Thus, the Hebrew biblical
text includes an impossible play on words on the name Moses, all of which
means that this cannot have been the idea of the original narrative. The
situation indicates that Pharaoh's Daughter had ceremonially given the boy
the same pharaoh-name as that of her father, and later of her husband, and
also her nephew (and his son). All were/became pharaohs - i.e. Tuth-mosis,
of which this purely Egyptian name Moses (mosis) is the last part.
This abbreviated form -
which was common usage in Egypt - was thus consistently based on the names
of a number of pharaohs all bearing this sovereign name at that time.
have been astonished that no recognizable traces have been found in Egypt of
the presence of Moses and the exodus - for instance inscriptions about "the
Ten Plagues of Egypt" - and find it unlikely that such disasters to the
Egyptians should have taken place unreported.
However, no known
pharaoh has been seen to jeopardize his prestige by advertising major
defeats. Although many inscriptions in stone exist, a physical source
problem is the perishableness of old papyrus writing material - only few
manuscripts or parts of texts on papyrus older than 1300 BC are preserved.
In modern times the great
personalities of ancient history have often been rather summarily dismissed
in academic research as being subject to hero worship. Yet certain
new-oriented historians have begun to regard them as being people who
have really existed, i.e. when it comes to great figures mostly known
from the handed down narratives and myths of individual nations.
The old inflexible
attitude could now be replaced by a broader view of narratives which so far
have mainly been (down)graded as myths, but must often could be regarded as
historically significant: irrespective of a possible lack of archaeological
confirmation, old narratives may include valuable information.
In the light of this,
modern research into history is continually making progress and may easily
changing attitudes and improving the possibilities of finding traces of
Moses in Egypt - not as a Hebrew, but as an Egyptian.
ushapti figures, i.e. 'after-death-servants', requisites in Egyptian
Freud was extremely well informed about Egyptology – also, he himself owned
a very fine
collection of ushapti figures - and his influence on the cultural science
Other researchers believe that biblical texts cannot be used as source
material for historical purposes. However, it is more likely that the
problem stems from insufficient historical knowledge.
It was fatal to the study
of the Bible's specific information about Moses that, especially in
philological research, academic hypotheses as to how the biblical texts were
created, were developed prior to scientific archaeological
excavations, analyses, and conclusive findings. As a consequence this
starting point led in an increasingly mistaken direction. (All this is
further elaborated on in a special Appendix in Vol. 4 of my Moses-series).
Around the late
1800's, theological researchers and historians began experimenting by making
"models" and reconstructing a creation and development of the texts - and to
when their formation might have taken place. But it was derived from
hypotheses and assumptions mainly based on textual material alone. This -
rarely recognized - one-sidedness naturally made sufficiently critical and
qualified judgment of the then-available data almost impossible. The problem
is that this background was forgotten little by little and many ideas from
these provisional models almost became assumed as "the truth".
Based on ideas
from the pioneers DeWette, Reuss, Graf, and Kuenen, it was claimed by the
German theologian, Orientalist, and Semitic scholar Julius Wellhausen
(1844-1918) that the biblical texts had been subjected to alterations or had
been adapted and, in particular, pieced together from old sources.
As generally among
academics and intellectuals also Freud was, naturally, familiar with these
thoughts of the time. But could it have any influence on his view on the
For more than a hundred
years an extreme version of Wellhausen's hypothesis on such alleged text
division - later represented as the Berlin School or the German School -
continued to have quite a dominating influence on many researchers' and
non-researchers' perception of the texts. In various ways it still
influences much biblical information in encyclopaedias and literature - for
instance, a claim that the Bible contains six books of the Pentateuch -
established by including the Book of Joshua - became also a fashionable "truth" for many years.
This German School's
increasingly complex method of classifying the biblical texts, the so-called"dcumentary'"theory, is based on, among other things, the idea that
because double names and descriptions of the Israelite god appear in the
texts as well as double versions of events, territories, and laws, these
texts must necessarily stem from different sources. As this seemed very
convincing viewed from that angle, the problem was that much of the biblical
research on such points found repose to some degree through the succeeding
researchers from many schools there is a predominantly hypercritical
attitude as to the age of the ancient sources as well as an uncontrolled
passion for late dating - which means that the texts are now often
considered to be 300-500 years more recent.
The German School -
rooted in biblical textual studies and often isolated from Middle Eastern
culture as a whole - is coloured by an unfortunate and anachronistic
approach: present-day based textual criticism and interpretation, theory of
form, and editorial methodology - in which archaeological findings are
"adapted" - in itself a method open to criticism. At an early stage this school was, therefore,
characterized as being "dogmatic, arbitrary, and ultra-Semitiological".
The result is that many
researchers and theologians now regard the biblical texts only as
folkloristic narratives without genuine historical value and possibly even
as pure falsifications. It has even been suggested that the ancient Hebrew
language of the oldest texts is an artificial product of late date.
Many have also adopted
the attitude that Abraham and Moses are pure fiction, Exodus never happened
- and most of the Bible consist of fictional, national-ideological
narratives set in a "patchwork" of religious backgrounds; everything
invented by the priests ca. 300 BC.
Among the numerous
examples of the authenticity problems concerning these hypotheses
should be mentioned that at a distance of several thousand years, some of
the researchers claim to know more about the texts than the writers who once
wrote them did.
Freud accompanied by Princess Marie Bonaparte received in Paris
by Anna Freud and Prince Peter, June 1938.
The events not to be evaluated as isolated phenomena
The science of anthropology, in short, was structured - especially by
Malinowski and Max Weber - as a comprehensive cross-cultural study also
dealing with history, religion, and mythology, besides psychology, sociology
and economics. It is using holistic research methods describing human social
phenomena and historical connections, much based on ethnographic fieldwork
and founded on the condition that a system's properties cannot necessarily
be accurately understood independently of each other.
Through my acquaintance
with the Malinowski-educated doctor of anthropology, the Greek-Danish Prince
Peter (1908-1980) during the last eight years of his life, up to 1980, I
received information on many important and highly interesting subjects.
Furthermore, he was the son of one of Freud's most keen assistants, Princess
Marie Bonaparte, who so bravely helped Freud later to escape to London, away
from the Nazis in Austria, also by succeeding to make USA's President
Roosevelt to send a sensational letter to the Gestapo putting pressure on
them. Prince Peter was very early introduced to many psychological topics -
several of which were also connected to his later studies - through her as
Freud's skilled daughter, Anna Freud.
Among the 10 languages
Prince Peter mastered, he spoke Tibetan fluently, and was leading
expeditions to Central Asia and was a friend of the Dalai Lama. Certain
extra details came to my knowledge: It concerned the Dalai Lama and the story of his birth, about -
as in the case of Moses - the found child appearing according to divine
providence, then to continue the ongoing thousand-year-old-tradition, and
thus brought up to the palace (in Lhasa) to receive a high education, to
become the sovereign of the country and its religious leader (Buddhist).
- So when scholars claim that historical events of a similar type are
"migratory legends" and myths, the Dalai Lama presents a still living proof
that the event-pattern also exists in concrete reality.
Indeed, by its
characteristic breadth and methodology, anthropology can also help to throw
light on the matter, e.g. when the account of Moses and the Israelite's
long-term desert journey is rejected among so-called experts as being
impossible and unrealistic.
So, in this way and in so
many aspects it can be compared to when Mao Tze Dong and his huge group of
rebellion troops carried out "the long march", especially 1934-1935, in
reality for more than 15 years until this leader in 1949 had conquered the
last remnants of "the promised land". Including the escape into the desert
and the stay there - where he could collect troops and reorganize them - all
this is in principle also similar to what happened in the case of Moses.
Another example, among
many, - certain types of Buddhist-Shaman temples in Tibet and Mongolia are
made as portable temple-tents with pillars, altar, curtains etc. - and like
all of these tent-huts, yurts, constructed so as to be collapsible and
portable. In an anthropological sense it can be recognized as completely
identical, in principle, with the Tabernacle of Moses, known from the Bible
as the portable shrine in the desert and in part a copy of the contemporary
Egyptian portable shrines - nothing new under the sun here, either.
"History on the couch" – could Freud achieve genuine results by analyzing
history? - Picture: in the background of the famous couch used by Freud's
some of his fine collection of antique sculpture heads is shown.
The Egyptian Factor
researcher's "documentary"theory as well as its later offshoots, all with
their hypothetical classification of sources, and their hypothetical
sub-sources - and the idea that the Bible is pure literary fiction - is
being contradicted even also by so many new find and discoveries. But many
researchers have considered possible text alterations and modifications of
older expressions as confirmation that the entire text stemmed from the much
later times of the modernized expressions.
However, the Bible says
for instance that both King Hezekiah (Ezekias, 700 BC) and especially the priest
Ezra (350 BC) edited the Bible. In such cases the texts had an established
existence on a traditional basis prior to 700 BC.
The Rabbinical Writings -
with their vast, ancient collection of biblically related texts of which the
oldest parts are of the same age as the oldest parts of the Bible - are an
absolute necessity for the understanding of so many, also Egyptian
circumstances referred to in the Bible, all of which is often ignored by
researchers of the Bible and of history as well.
Offshoots of the German
School - also in an Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian framework, as for instance
the so-called "the Copenhagen School" which deprives Moses of all historical
identity - have omitted to observe the Egyptian factor although it is
among the most important elements in the understanding of many claimed
textual discrepancies. A "knowledge filter" has been created that
automatically filters everything out which is not in accordance with
prevailing theories; but down-to-earth critics would call it 'killing
Here it is to Freud's
credit that - in opposition to the official research's more extreme opinions
concerning Moses as a non-historical figure - he clearly pointed out Moses'
intimate connection with precisely the Egyptian universe.
As an original written
foundation regarding knowledge of historical activity before 900 BC in
Israel is virtually unknown (so far), this gave rise to unrestrained theorism as
was the case not the least in the German School, especially as its models are
thus not verifiable; scepticism became a "faith" itself.
good researchers have supported, and still support, offshoots of the
"documentary"theory - and the German hypotheses resulted in a valuable and
widespread text research, which achieved considerable results. But it is
also a fact that not even the slightest exact and objective proof has been
found verifying the "documentary"theory.
Within the entire Middle
East there was no example of such splitting up of documents from different
times, thus making a textual "patch-work" or even a direct invention of
historical background, solely to strengthen national-religious ideas; - which,
again, is self-contradictive, because the Bible repeatedly unfavourably mentions
the people and its leaders.
Outstanding text research
has often been done, but the over-all picture was lost: for instance,
minimalistic historical scepticism which denies that the Exodus from Egypt ever
happened, but is unable to explain Moses narrative's many hundreds of genuine Egyptian
Egyptian Source Documentation on Moses
Many researchers adopted the attitude that Abraham and Moses are pure
fiction, the exodus never happened - and most of the Bible consist of
fictional, national-ideological narratives set in a "patchwork" of religious
backgrounds; everything invented by the priests ca. 300 BC.
general inscriptions in stone exist, another problem is the perishableness
of old papyrus writing material - only few manuscripts or parts of texts on
papyrus from before ca. 1300 BC are preserved.
However, 2,300 years ago
King Ptolemy II ordered the ancient books and documents from the libraries of
the temples all over Egypt to be collected in his new great library in
Alexandria - and here, at that time, the historian and priest, Manetho, drew
information from these sources and wrote in Greek about Moses' rebellion and
the exodus. (Still, less than three centuries later the archives where also
at the disposal of the Jewish philosopher in Alexandria, Philo, who wrote a
biography about Moses).
Thus, it is a fact too
that in 280 BC original Egyptian documentation on Moses still existed.
So how can so many present-day scholars and researchers claim that Moses
never existed and rather is an invention created in Israel or even Babylonia
by Jewish priests at the same time, ca. 300 BC?
historian Josephus, 2,000 years ago, had invaluable sources on the history
of the Jews, also because the conqueror of Jerusalem, Titus Caesar
(Vespasian), gave Josephus scrolls confiscated from the Jerusalem Temple on
its destruction in 70 AD. Josephus had no problem acknowledging the
authenticity of Manetho's texts but he disagreed very much with
Manetho's Egyptian view on Moses as a destructive rebel - to Josephus he was
In the Bible, Moses is
mentioned with such terms as 'the Son of Pharaoh's Daughter'. This, which is
actually his royal Egyptian title, corresponds with the fact that Manetho
called him both Moses and Osarsyph - i.e. User-sif in
late-Egyptian language meaning 'child of Osiris', i.e. Horus, who was always
identified with the crown prince of Egypt, (Freud would have loved this).
kings allowed Jews to settle in Egypt - and for about 300 years in the
Egyptian city of Leontopolis they had their own temple after the Jerusalem
model, and a high priest. In Alexandria they occupied a quarter of the great
city, namely the area called Delta. Altogether there was a huge group
of new inhabitants (and in addition many Samaritan emigrants) who could
support Egyptian King Ptolemy II's sponsoring of a translation of the Hebrew
Bible into the Greek international language - the Septuaginta Bible. Again,
it was around 280 BC that this task was carried out in Alexandria, and in
the famous, extensive library of this metropolis Manetho may by chance even
have worked almost side by side with some of the 72 translating Jewish
rabbis and scholars.
So, how can it
possibly be claimed that the Bible is a late creation - and how could the
actually existing Septuaginta (Greek) Bible then have been translated from a
Hebrew Bible which according to the theorists' claim hardly could have
existed at this time?
1st page of Freud's handwritten
"Wenn Moses ein Ägypter war", dated 24 May 1937.
Egyptian Gods in the Bible - and Freud, the Atheist
Furthermore, the otherwise obvious consequences have not been taken
notice of, concerning the many genuine Egyptian names in Moses' circles.
Besides his own name Moses, 'child', also to be seen are e.g.
Jethro, 'the River Nile', - Miriam, 'loved by Amun', - Aaron,
'great is the name' (i.e. of Osiris), - Aaron's son El-eazer,
'Osiris-god' (el, 'god', is a Semitic addition), - Aaron's successor
and grandson Phinehas, 'Negro', 'Ethiopian', - Merari,'greatly
loved', - Hopni, 'river(god-name)'. Also a word for 'truth' in
Hebrew, emeth, is the name of the Egyptian goddess for truth, Maat,
- and numerous other examples of Egyptian origin exist.
Freud, the atheist,
admired a great historical personality, Moses - who also happened to be the
first known founder of a religion. This later world religion demands, "You
shall not have other gods". And yet so many in
the groups close to Moses had Egyptian names connected with Egyptian gods.
Freud was as rooted in the Enlightenment with thinkers such as Locke and
Newton - and in the new science especially Darwin - and was a confirmed
atheist who often rejected the belief in supernatural faith as inconsistent
with the scientific method. To a colleague, Oskar Pfiste, who was a
Christian pastor in Switzerland, Sigmund Freud had (in 1918) posed a
"... Quite by the way, why did none of the devotees create psychoanalysis?
Why did one have to wait for a completely godless Jew? ..."
However, Freud seems to
have had an essential position for the making of his momentous discoveries
leading to psychoanalysis - when influenced early by knowledge from his own
Jewish background and simultaneously keeping and outside position by being
an atheist and avoiding Jewish customs. Thus, he succeeded in developing
interpersonal examination of the unconscious mind into an apparently new
therapeutic intervention, the psychoanalysis. According to Peter Gay,
Professor in history at Yale University, in his book, "Freud: A Godless Jew"
(1987) - it was the mentioned basis of the knowledge and the freedom that
enabled Freud to pierce the taboo topics of sexuality and the unconscious.
There are atheists and there are atheists, i.e. those who renounce religion and those who
have atheism as a 'religion' - it could be said that Freud appeared as both.
He admired Moses and yet Moses was the founder of a world religion. In connection with his own position he has explained:
"… My deep engrossment in the Bible story (almost as soon as I had learnt
the art of reading) had, as I recognized much later, an enduring effect upon
the direction of my interest …", (Sigmund Freud: "An Autobiographical
However, Freud could
never accept religion - and stated:
"… The whole thing is so patently infantile, so foreign to reality, that to
anyone with a friendly attitude to humanity it is painful to think that the
majority of mortals will never be able to rise above this view of life …",
(Sigmund Freud: "Civilization and its Discontents", 1930).
Anyway, Freud could not
stay away from near presence of religion, he showed some kind of "to love
his enemy" and was always fascinated and drawn to the subject. At his place
he had surrounded himself with religious significances, Freud's study was
full of sacred objects from ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, and the Far East,
and concerning "afterlife" objects - besides the row of Egyptian ushapti
figures on his desk - he had an Egyptian funerary boat in the cabinet.
Schilling note (issued 1986 and 1987) with the portrait of Sigmund Freud as
being the founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychology. The banknotes
comprised other famous Austrians people, e.g. Mozart, but only the Freud
has the unusual
adornment, an Egyptian-like figure, and may associate to Freud's direction
in the Moses question.
Egyptian Language in the Bible
Of the overwhelming number of examples of the authenticity problems
concerning the academic researchers' hypotheses, a few are mentioned here: 1. Although the Bible has 3-4 Hebrew words
for 'linen/cotton' (e.g. bad, peshet, and sadin) the Egyptian word
shesh (shesn) is used 38 times, of which 34 passages with this word are
in the Pentateuch, but is nevertheless claimed to belong to a so-called late
priest-source ("P-source"). But why should the priests avoid the words of their
own Hebrew biblical language as if they were Egyptological linguistic
historians? 2. The designation pharaoh (per-ao,
'the great house') was only used in Egypt for 'king' at the time of Moses and
until 900 BC, when the usage was reduced to only being included in the
ceremonial titles of the king. However, if the Pentateuch was only written one
thousand years after the event, which Jewish readers could then be expected to
be able to understand this obsolete Egyptian word? 3. Why should anyone invent a mythical
figure, Moses, for these Jews of later times - and with this purely Egyptian
name? 4. According to many scholars,
these Jews of later times in Israel mostly spoke Aramaic. Why then were the
books of the Pentateuch written in ancient Hebrew which in daily use
apparently was severely declining after 600 BC? 5. How can the Samaritans' Bible
hold an almost identical text about Moses - written in even older writing
than that of the Jewish Bible in the version from Babylonian times ca. 400
BC - if the Jewish priests, who were often the competitors (even sometimes
enemies) of the Samaritans, only "invented" the Bible in 400-200 BC?
Therefore, researchers have also had to claim that the Samaritan Bible is a
very late construction. 6. The idea about one (creating) god is
documented in Egypt - around 1450 BC for instance (at the time of Moses) - and
much earlier too, i.e. not invented by Jewish priests in 300 BC. 7. In the Pentateuch the pact/treaty with
Yahweh was formulated in a way which was typical of treaties in 1400 BC of the Middle
East, for instance also by the Hittites. - And: 8. Censuses mentioned in the Pentateuch are
based directly on the Egyptian pattern of the same period: both conditions
unlikely to be created a thousand years later.
- So, at a distance of
several thousand years, it is thus claimed by some influential schools of
research that they know more about the texts than the writers who once wrote
them. - It was this type of artificial historical picture that Freud was
As for historical plausibility of the oldest parts of the Bible, i.e. the
Pentateuch, biblical research has generally neglected the fact that these
texts can give specific information about individuals, times and
sites - i.e. exactly as required for legal evidence in court -
contrary to legends and folk-tales, where these factors are unclear.
Researchers who at an early stage were on a better track, which for instance
was in better agreement with archaeology, can still be seen rejected with
the non-argument that "they are obsolete".
All this has restrained
the solution of the Moses enigma and became the main reason for the lack of
concrete results. This was encouraged by the fact that new schools of
history regarded ideas about prehistoric key personalities in the
development of civilization to be the aforesaid obsolete hero worship.
An attempt has, however,
been made to find a solution to the dissension and problems in research
about Moses and the authorship by simply, as has already been mentioned,
eliminating Moses by rendering him non-existent and thus merely a
constructed mythical figure. In this way the Assassination of Moses -
set up by his contemporary Egyptian opposition, and later to a certain
extent by ancient biblical editors - has been repeated today!
researching for essential historical data, human knowledge, and spiritual
information in the ancient myths - carried out also by Freud's
anthropological circle - seems thus neglected. For a long time such a
dismissive attitude was often to be seen among theologians.
Much of the collected
unusual knowledge we owe to those élite researchers from this early period
who from older vanishing cultures, often at the last minute, managed to
obtain and preserve a special knowledge about man.
Many of the early
researchers' works have become priceless which is twhy the fact that whole
annual volumes of, for instance, German scientific journals dating back to
the 1920's have been photographically reprinted - often by American
university publishers. Thus, today we can benefit from the inspiration of
this meeting with earlier cultures and their physical and spiritual world
picture - just as it also provided Freud and his circle with the amazing
material for study and insight.
For years, Freud was deeply interested in the idolized statue of Moses
by Michelangelo (1515) in Rome, and described it as "the image of
an ideal human being".
The Sigmund Freud Jubilee - Freud's Book on Moses Still Much Discussed
Quite a number of books and media articles in 2006 internationally
celebrated the 150th anniversary of Sigmund Freud - naturally, also
mentioning that Freud wrote articles about Moses.
Freud is still exposed to
a lot of criticism - which is only natural when a pioneer work
cannot always compare with later development - but also because he had been
so insistently certain that his theories were the sole truth.
However, around the
anniversary in 2006, almost 2,000 books about Freud were available according
to various Internet book-sites (Amazon.com, etc), - and in Newsweek, Time
Magazine, Der Spiegel, and Die Zeit, etc., he was greatly celebrated.
As their starting point
or inspiration to work, German Egyptologist and culture researcher Jan
Assmann, Palestinian-American literature researcher Edward W. Said, and
American philosopher Richard J. Bernstein, take as their starting point
or develop further Freud's religious-critical considerations about the
role of Moses in our perception of today's monotheistic religions.
So Moses too is of
current interest - although he was never out of focus. For example, the
famous Hollywood director Cecil B. DeMille succeeded in making the great
movie "The Ten Commandments", twice in his lifetime, in 1923 and 1956.
Influence from Freud's concept of Moses could also be observed here; -
according to Hollywood trivia, Cecil B. deMille was persuaded to cast
Charlton Heston as Moses in his movie-epic of 1956, based on Heston's in
some way physical resemblance to Michelangelo's Moses.
Over some years prior to
the 2006-jubilee, all three treatises in his book, "Der Mann Moses und die
monotheistische Religion" - finished in London shortly before he passed away
in 1939 - promoted inspiration for several new editions.
Freud had famous
people among his patients, e.g. Gustav Mahler - however, he has written
several analyses, psycho-biographies, on people who have not been his
patients, e.g. on Dostojevski, and the former USA-President Woodrow Wilson
and on Leonardo da Vinci as well as on Michelangelo in his article "The
Moses of Michelangelo" (1914). But now, it was precisely his book on Moses
himself which was published again - the one which has given rise to so much
debate in other circles - among historians, biblical researchers, and even
Again attention was also
brought to the fact that Freud also wrote about his incredible occupation
with Michelangelo's Moses, the statue in Rome made even more famous by Freud.
Freud's perception of
Moses is to an exceptional degree referred to through a constantly growing
amount of works and articles by many academics. An enormous interest exists
in connection with Freud's occupation with Moses - and in 2004 the NOMOS
International Conference "Freud's Moses and the Traumatized Human Subject"
was held as part of "Ramifications for Culture and Education", (Oct. 16-17)
at Columbia University, New York City.
Chapter 8 of "The
Suppressed Record", the first volume of my Moses-series, describes the
shared considerations of Freud and his fellow researchers: they do not
conceal the fact that Moses was an Egyptian prince - as appears also from the
comprehensive and clarifying source material in my books about the
background of Moses. Altogether - in the huge bibliography (up to 2005) in
my Moses-series can be found almost all of the previous 120 years'
internationally published works and treatises about Moses - approx. 1,000
In the expanded
bibliography attached to the present text (and in my book-series on Moses)
are listed examples of the incredible number of works and treatises - with
the many researchers' concepts of Sigmund Freud's concept of himself
concepting Moses. Naturally, the researchers' "comments on comments
concerning comments" about Freud's thoughts about Moses tend to create a
distance; - in all this what became of Moses?
The present text, among other things, shows Moses, the historical Moses, as
being in the picture again. Many researchers and scholars have tried to make
Moses non-historical - and is it worth the effort to compare and discuss
Freud's relation to himself in relation to Moses, if the Moses concept of
the involved researchers is just another non-historical illusion instead of
a historically founded, concrete person of the past? Prior to anything else,
thorough actual historical knowledge must be an essential entrance ticket to this
kind of Freud study.
Also, for instance,
although Freud himself - with his Jewish background and history - bases his
views on biblical events concerning Moses on a special Jewish concept of the
Bible, no-one seems to have made any real corrections regarding this
One of the problems here
is that the exodus from Egypt according to the ancient texts was a movement
consisting of 12 Israelite tribes mainly of Hebrew origin. The Jews were
here a minority, probably even less than ten per cent of the Exodus group;
even tribes of other kinds joined too, for instance the tribe of Caleb plus
many Egyptian refugees belonging to the so-called proselytes, who supported
Moses. Much later, most Israelite tribes had either disappeared or merged,
during ca. 800-300 BC, leaving one tribe to be the sole heir, the Jews.
On this background
continued discussions on Freud among theologians, historians, and
researchers by the often monotonously frequent mentioning of "the exodus of
the Jews", create a misleading picture. It might even have brought Freud
himself to misplace extra weight on indications concerning especially the
Jewish problems, tradition, and trauma - in the ancient situation and
reflected in present-time events - and in connection with his book on Moses.
Sigmund Freud, in front left, and
Carl Gustav Jung, right,
in USA 1909, three years before the break in their
Dangerous minefield - Supporters and Criticism
Many critics point to the fact that psychoanalysis has been used as a
substitute kind of religion - psychoanalysis with its holy texts, its
hierarchies and 'churches', disciples spreading the good news, promises of
salvation, and claims to 'truth'. When the anthropologist Claude
Lévi-Strauss examined a shamanic healing ritual from the Cuna population in
Panama, he drew parallels with psychoanalysis (C. Lévi-Strauss "Structural
Anthropology", (1958, and 1963, pp. 197-198).
The gifted and shrewd
writer and former Secretary to the Danish Prime Minister and later the
Editor-in-chief at Ekstra-Bladet (leading Danish daily tabloid), Victor
Andreasen (1920-2000), was a graduate in political science and economics,
and especially known for his knowledge and great interest in history, - he
requested the first volume of my book-series on Moses and was very
enthusiastic about it. The book's positive and yet not entirely surrendering
description of Freud's sometimes less historically consistent interpretation
of Moses made Victor Andreasen stop the completion of his review. He
presented me with a private, 16-page letter about the book and the problem.
My book only referred to
some data in a modified, neutral way as in a dictionary (so the present text
would probably also have been directly shocking). I understood that I had
entered a dangerous minefield by not being sufficiently conscious of the
fact that by certain circles the atheist Freud himself was close to being
cultically worshipped almost like a god - nothing was allowed to be said
here if it could be interpreted as the slightest disapproval.
Freud's most uncritical
supporters should have known better - that in reality when Freud published
his book on Moses, and many of the reviews were terrible, and reactions to
the book often bitter, then Freud himself was delighted, - "... Quite a
worthy exit ...", he called the Moses book.
An Invisible God and the Dynamics of Inner Life
Behind Freud's contentment when his messages were so widely disseminated
with the publishing of his last book amid such great attention, it is
apparent that the book among its many inquiries also contains an extra
message of a special kind. Without changing his atheistic position, Freud -
nearing the end of his life and speculations about the question of existence
- suggests through his argumentation that belief in the unseen god may
prepare the ground for several very great cultural values - and especially:
- Someone who can
contemplate an invisible god, Freud implies, is in a strong position to take
seriously the unseen but possibly determining dynamics of inner life, -
according to Mark Edmundson's essay on Freud: "Defender of the Faith?", in
The New York Times Magazine (September 9, 2007).
Thomas Mann, the great
German writer and Nobel Prize winner, well-known too for his interest in
Moses, points to the fact that Freud was deeply involved in the
irrationalism of the beginning of the new century (1900) because of the
nature of the material of his enquiry - the unconscious, passions,
instincts, and dreams.
in 1938, sketched by Salvador Dali who as a surrealist artist
was deeply influenced by Freud's writings on the unconscious and dreams.
Among the criticism against Freud, of course, much is of no significance,
while other features may be of interest; in particular, it is astonishing
that the world's most famous psychoanalyst drew conclusions from so
incredibly few patients. Although Freud had the small number of persons
under observation often for a very long time and could investigate their
current course carefully - then on the other hand, it can be said that
several people from his very small group of patients belonged to some
extremes far from the average concept, so it could be misleading to draw too
Another criticism could,
for example, include Freud's 'avoidance' of the spiritual dimension. The
fact is that he describes his research as psychoanalysis - a Greek term
meaning 'examination of the soul' - even though his theory does not regard
or recognize the soul, thus creating a contradictory element. That kind of
'deficiency' may naturally prevent the detection and solution of many
enigmas in connection with Moses' Egyptian inspired religious cultural
Anyway, Freud could not
stay away from the presence of religion - he obviously "loved his enemy" and
was always fascinated and drawn to the subject. In his home he surrounded
himself with religious "signs", Freud's study was full of sacred objects
from ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, and the Far East. Concerning "afterlife"
objects - besides the row of Egyptian ushapti figures on his desk -
he had an Egyptian funerary boat in his cabinet. Several times Freud
stated the hope that mankind would pass beyond religion, and yet he
surely took inspiration from the story of Moses and its new concept of
Freud's Word on Science
Many years ago
when I began my research on the historical Moses, I only knew very little
about Freud's ideas on Moses - however, through my own investigations I
also ended up with some of the same results as Freud. Even as regards the
title of my book-series, "Assassinating Moses", it was to be observed that
already Freud had used an almost similar expression, although not for quite
the same purpose. (Here, Freud had his theory about the archaic
Based on the knowledge of
his time, Freud arrived at his interesting conclusions about Moses. Freud
was very logical and penetrating in his argumentation - in particular in his
endeavours to present Moses as an Egyptian prince. More than 60 years later
I was able to make use of many more sources from even many more research
areas (not least the first more precise Moses dating with the help of
astronomy) - this alone may show decisive differences and lead to further
progress in this field.
As Freud himself
(although he sometimes wanted to protect his research with dogma) said so
"... It is a misunderstanding that science is only decisive, provable
findings, and it is unfair to demand it to be so. This is a demand only
expressed by those who wish to follow some kind of authority and a demand
for replacing a religion's catechism by something else, even by a scientific
one. Science ... consists mainly of statements which it has developed into
various degrees of probability. ..."
Among the rushes and papyrus stems on the banks of the Nile the goddess Isis
her "royal god-child", the suckling god-son Horus, on her lap. (Relief,
the Philae temple).
The Birth of King Sargon - a Narrative as a Mystery Play
By calling Freud "provocative" when presenting Moses as a non-Jewish leader,
the critics did not take historical knowledge into consideration: that Moses
was linked to a well-established ritual.
instances from the ancient myths in general which inspired Freud and his
circle, are also dealt with in Jung's research of the archetypes.
Spiritual dimensions were
in ancient Egypt believed to criss-cross through the universe and may be
difficult to understand when based on today's entirely different perception
of the world, in which western culture has developed into the first
predominantly "non-religious" civilization of history.
Not least the ancient
Egyptians always had their focus on the Creation and succeeding cycles of
life and death (after-life). Consequently, the aim of religion was to attend
to the large and small natural cycles which form the world as if in an
alternation between hidden, potential existence and visible, manifest being.
Therefore, at an early stage, considerable importance was ascribed to the
perception of the interaction of these mechanisms and structures - in world,
life, and cosmos.
Among, for instance, the
Egyptians it also belonged to the cyclic perception that the kings in a
30-year cycle were to renew themselves and show their renewal at the
hept-sed festival. Likewise in most of the ancient world, heirs to the
throne joined by dint of their birth a larger cycle connected to providence
and the gods' affiliation with the fate of the country.
The account about the
infant Moses on the River Nile belongs to a larger complex of cultic mystery
plays copying and re-playing the ancient myths throughout many ages in many
countries of antiquity. - Let us finish here with a little information about
the oldest known of such events:
To Perform Like the Gods
In 1870 the written narrative about the birth of King Sargon I (ca. 2,000
BC) was found by the British Assyriologist, George Smith (1840-1876), while
excavating King Sancherib's palace in Keuyunjik, i.e. the site of the
ancient Nineveh, near the present city of Mosul in Iraq.
(668-627 BC) who was especially interested in history, had narratives
systematically copied from older texts - up to several thousand years older
- which he wanted saved in future. In addition, he made his daughter, the
highest ranking princess, the chief-librarian, a high priestess position.
The texts were collected
from all over the empire of Assurbanipal; - together with other literature,
more than 22,000 clay tablets have been found in his library established at
the enormous palace of a predecessor, King Sennacherib (Sancherib). Here at
Nineveh, King Assurbanipal created "the first systematically collected
library" where he attempted to gather all cuneiform literature available at
that time. A library was distinct from an archive - where earlier
repositories of documents had accumulated passively, in the course of
Many of the texts are
copies, and they have thus been designated by the researchers with a
standard term "Duplicate" (or by German reserchers, "Dublikat") at the
beginning of each tablet's number marking. Concerning astronomical contents
in many of the texts, modern astronomy computing has fully confirmed their
stated celestial conditions of the stars from the previous thousand years.
In addition, in
older Babylonian, Akkadian, and Sumerian archives some of the ancient original
texts have been found - which support the knowledge about the Niniveh
tablets being copies of these more ancient texts.
George Smith was
the most competent Assyriologist of his time. One year after the finding,
both George Smith and his colleagues published translations. Later, more
knowledge was used for further improving his translation of the ancient
birth narrative about King Sargon I; however, the principal contents as
originally stated by him are unaltered.
Compared with the
many other existing birth myths with a ritual practising of the same type of
event and action - a distinct pattern of a certain kind of religious mystery
play emerges. Re-playing myths was normal religious procedure - all
to be performed as the gods did.
Thus, almost a
millennium before Moses, accounts about a new-born child found in a boat
floating down the River Euphrates were already known from Babylonia. The
text mentions that a boy-child - later to become the king named Sargon
(Sargon I) - was found by a princess, brought to the king's palace, and here
given a high education. His so-called 'autobiographical' record clearly
indicates that the child (Sargon) in the rush boat was the son of the king's
A Verbatim Translation of King Sargon's Text
(1) Sargon, the mighty king, king of Akkad - I am.
(2) My mother was a princess (or a high rank priestess), my father I
did not know; my father's brother (or brothers) ruled the country (: the
country with hills).
(3) My city was Azupirani on the bank of River Euphrates,
(4) where my mother as a princess (or priestess of high rank) conceived me -
secretly (or in a hidden place, a cave), she gave me birth.
(5) She placed me in an ark of rush; with pitch she caulked the lid.
(6) She threw me into the river, which did not sweep over me (i.e. into the
(7) The river was buoyant and brought me to Akki, the river man (or
"irrigator" (cf. Jethro in Egypt))..
(8) Akki, the river man, took me up - carefully as his water
(9) Akki, the river man brought me up as his son (.....).
(10) Akki, the river man, made me a gardener (.....).
(11) (.....) as I was a gardener the goddess Ishtar (i.e. Sirius or Venus) made me king.
(12) (.....) 35 (or 45) years old I was a king and ruled.
(13) over a dark-skinned people. I (.....) over various countries. -
The Babylonian cuneiform
tablet (below) with the Sargon inscriptions was published early - and also
in a work by the British Museum, "Cuneiform Inscriptions" (Vol.3, p.4,
No.VII, British Museum).
Ritualized Connection With Providence or Gods
No foreign child of low birth could have obtained such a significant
education followed by a royal career and been accepted when he suddenly took
over the leadership from the former king. The river event of the ritualized
connection with "providence or gods" must have been a thoroughly planned
happening intended for a child of royal origin.
King Sargon is the
earliest known case of this ancient ritual for royal children - while the
case of Moses is the most famous.
The last known and in
many ways similar case is about the Dalai Lama - here in connection
with the ancient Tibetan Bön religion, where the Tibetan god, Pe har, had
assumed form of a boy and was placed in a box which drifted down the
Kyichu river and was then picked up by high-ranking lama priests, or abbots,
or by the old Dalai Lama.
The event where
Moses was received with the ritual for the chosen royal child indicates him
as being an Egyptian - the Israelites had no kings until 500 years later (Saul,
There have been numerous other
cases, - a well-known tradition in many countries.
In addition to King
Sargon I who was found on the River Euphrates (ca. 2300 BC), and Moses who
was found on the River Nile (ca. 1500 BC), it is known that Erechtonius, the
first Athenian prince (ca. 1400 BC) was found in the water on the coast; and
that the Greek "god-child" Dionysus - born of King Cadmus' daughter Semele -
was found in a little boat riding the waves near Brassiae in Laconia.
Another Greek "god-child", Attis, was received on the banks of the River
Sangarius by the mother-goddess Cybele.
In India the Sun-god's
son Karna, the Prince Royal, was placed in a woven reed boat by his mother,
the king's daughter Kunti; as similarly was the Babylonian Queen Hamai's son
set out on the Euphrates to be received and recognized as heir to the
The Latin King Romulus
was found on the River Tiber (ca. 800 BC); while King Tu-Küeh of the ancient
Turkish people was set out on the water at Turkistan (ca. 200 AD). As with
King Skjold ('shield') - also known as King Sheaf - on the Roskilde fiord near the
settlement Lejre, in Denmark.
The same ritual was held not only for
Arthur on the Cornwall coast (all ca. 600 AD), but also for the Celtic
kings' children on the Rhine; and it even appears in ancient myths in Tibet
(within the Bön religion) and Japan (the new-born son of Izanagis and
Izanamis was set out in a woven rush boat). And the ritual was also known to
be associated with high leaders of the early Asian-influenced North-American
Tlatlasikoala-, Tsimschian- and Tlingit-Indian tribes.
The event where Moses was received with the
ritual for the chosen royal child shows him as an Egyptian - the Israelites
had no kings until 500 years later (Saul, David etc.).
To anthropologists in
particular - and in addition archaeologists, historians, Egyptologists, and
linguists - we are greatly indebted, as also were the early important group
of psychology researchers were indebted, for giving us the opportunity today
to learn much more about the people of the past with their rich knowledge of
man and the world.
From the earliest times
man has ritualized a connection with providence or the gods, thus including
some problematic features that also contributed to the shaping of culture -
certain residual elements of which were to be recognized in much later times
by, among others, the psychoanalysts.
Bibliography -Literature on a Pattern in the Ancient Birth
Books and articles concerning a special pattern in ancient myths about the
birth of kings.
Ackerman, James S.:
The Literary Context of the Moses Birth Story (Exodus 1-2),
Literary Interpretations of Biblical Narratives, vol. 1, (ed. K.R.R.
Gros Louis), Nashville 1974.
Childs, Brevard S.: The Birth of Moses, Journal of Biblical
Literature, 84, 1965, pp. 109-122.
Cohen, Jonathan: The Origins and Evolution of the Moses
Nativity Story, (Numen Books Series, 1992 - &:) Studies in the
History of Religions, 58, (Brill) 1993.
Foster, B.R.: Birth Legend of Sargon of Akkad, in "The
Context of Scripture: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World,
vol. 1", edited by W.W. Hallo, (E.J. Brill), Leiden, 1997.
Gressmann, Hugo: Mose und seine Zeit, Göttingen, 1913.
Lacoque, A.: La naissance de Moïse, Veritatem In Caritate 6,
Hague 1961, pp. 111-120.
Lewis, Brian: The Sargon Legend: A Study of the Akkadian Text
and the Tale of the Hero Who Was Exposed at Birth, American Schools
of Oriental Research, Diss. 4, Cambridge, MA. 1980.
Meyer, Eduard: ("Moses" in:) Die Israeliten und ihre Nachbarstämme,
Halle 1906, pp. 46ff.
- - : "Sitzungsberichte der Königlich preussischen Akademie der
Wissenschaft", Band 31, Berlin 1905, pp. 640-652.
Rank, Otto: ("Moses" in:) The Myth of the Birth of the Hero,
(Rank: "Die Mythus von der Geburt des Helden, Schriften zur angewandten
Seelenkunde", Herausgeb. von Sigmund Freud, Heft 5, Leipzig 1909), New
Redford, Donald B.: ("Moses" in:) The Literary Motif of the Exposed
Child, Numen, 14, 1967, pp. 209-228.
Smith, George: ("Sargon" in:) Early History of Babylonia,
Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archaeology, vol. 1, London 1872, pp.
Spaeth, Ove von: The Suppressed Record. - "Assassinating
Moses", vol. 1, 2nd ed., Copenhagen (1999) 2004, pp. 23-54, 166-169.
Westenholz, Joan Goodnick: Legends of the Kings of Akkade: The
Texts, Mesopotamian Civilizations 7, Winona Lake IN, Eisenbrauns,
1997, pp. 36-49.
- - (Review): The Sargon Legend: A Study of the Akkadian Text
and the Tale of the Hero Who Was Exposed at Birth: By Brian Lewis (1980),
Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Vol. 43, No. 1 (Jan.), 1984, pp. 73-79.
Wiedemann, A.: On the Legends Concerning the Youth of Moses,
Part 1 and 2, Proceedings of The Society of Biblical Archæology, vol.
11, 1889, (London), pp. 29-43 & 267-282.
Wundt, Wilhelm: Völkerpsychologie, Band 2:3, Leipzig 1909.
Bibliography - Examples of Specialist Literature on Freud about Moses
The bibliographical list to illustrate some of the overwhelmingly many books
and articles, in which researchers are seriously occupied with Freud's
considerations and an interest in Moses.
Armstrong, Richard H.:
Contrapuntal Affiliations: Edward Said and Freud's Moses,
American Imago, Volume 62, Number 2, Summer 2005, The Johns Hopkins
University Press, pp. 235-257.
Assmann, Jan: Moses the Egyptian. The Memory of Egypt in
Western Monotheism,(Jan Assmann: Moses der Ägypter. Entzifferung
einer Gedächtnisspur. Hanser, München 1998), Harvard University Press,
(October 15) 1998, pp. 16, 147-148, 159-162.
Black, Margaret J.: The murder of memory: Freud, Moses, and the
death of Rabin, Mortality, Volume 7, Number 1, 1 March 2002, Routledge, pp. 83-95 (13).
Bakan, David: Moses in the Thought of Freud, Commentary
Magazine (1945-2007), October 1958.
Bergmann, Martin S. (Review): Freud's Moses-Studie Als
Tagtraum: By Ilse Grubrich-Simitis (1991), Journal of the American
Psychoanalytic Association, 42:898-901, 1994.
Bernstein, Richard J.: Freud and the Legacy of Moses,
Cambridge Studies in Religion and Critical Thought (No. 4), Cambridge
University Press, 1998.
Blum, E.: Über Sigmund Freuds: Der Mann Moses und die monotheistische Religion, Psyche, 10, 1956-57, pp. 367-390.
Bori, Pier Cesare: Il 'Mosè' di Freud: per una prima
valutazione storico-critica, in Bori: "L'estasi del profeta ed altri
saggi tra Ebraismo e Cristianismo", Bologna: Il Molino 1989, pp.
Briefel, Aviva: Sacred Objects/Illusory Idols: The Fake in
Freud's "The Moses of Michelangelo", American Imago - Volume 60,
Number 1, Spring 2003, The Johns Hopkins University Press, pp. 21-40.
Dawkins, Richard: The God Delusion, London 2006.
Edmundson, Mark: (on Freud:) Defender of the Faith?, New
York Times Magazine, September 9, 2007.
Faessler, M.: Le nom de Moïse et le nom de Dieu.
L'interprétation Freudienne et son dépassement théologique possible, "La
figure de Moïse", (ed. R. Martin-Archard), 1978, pp. 143-156.
Freud, Sigmund: Drei Abhandlungen: Der Mann Moses und die monotheistischen Religion, Wien 1934-38, (English, "Moses and
Monotheism", London 1939; transl. from German: Katherine Jones, 1939).
- - : The Moses of Michelangelo, Standard Edition, 13,
(1914) 1955, pp. 211-238.
Gay, Volney Peter (Review): Freud and Moses: The Long Journey
Home: By Emanuel Rice (1990), Journal of the American Academy of
Religion, Vol. 59, No. 4, Winter, 1991, pp. 862-864.
Gilman, Sander L. (Review): Freud's Moses: Judaism Terminable
and Interminable: By Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi (1991), The American
Historical Review (American Historical Association), Vol. 97, No. 4
(Oct.), 1992, pp. 1178-1179.
Goldstein, Bluma: Reinschribing Moses: Heine, Kafka, Freud and
Schoenberg in a European Wilderness, Harvard University Press,
Cambridge, Mass., 1992.
Grübrich-Simitis, Ilse: Freuds Moses-Studie als Tagtraum: ein
Bibliographisher Essay, Die Sigmund-Freud-Vorlesungen, Band 3,
Verlag Internationale Psychoanalyse, Weinheim, 1991.
- - : Early Freud and Late Freud: Reading Anew Studies on
Hysteria and Moses and Monotheism, (paperback) 1998.
Hsu, Michael (Review): Freud and the Non-European: By Edward
Said (2003), The Asian Review of Books, 01, 08, 2003.
Hyatt, J. Philip: Freud on Moses and the Genesis of Monotheism,
Journal of Bible and Religion, Vol. 8, No. 2, (Oxford University Press),
(May) 1940, pp. 85-88.
Jones, Ernest: The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud. Vol. 3: The
Last Phase (1919-1939), New York NY, Basic Books, 1957.
- - : The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud, edited and
abridged into one volume by Lionel Trilling & Steven Marcus(Basic
Books, Inc. Publishers), New York 1961, p. 502 (: Freud's own view on
the historical basis of his Moses story).
Kakutani, Michiko: Judaism, Anti-Semitism And Freud: A New
View. - A Review of: Freud's Moses Judaism Terminable and Interminable:
By Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi (1991), Books of The Times, New York
Times, September 13, 1991.
Kestenberg, Judith S. (Review): Freud's Moses: Judaism
Terminable and Interminable: By Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi (1991),
Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 63, 1994, pp. 383-387.
Koehler, Ludwig Hugo: Freud und Moses..., Neue Zürcher
Zeitung, No. 667, 16. April 1939.
Lehmann, Johannes: Moses - der Mann aus Ägypten,(Hoffmann
und Campe Verlag), Hamburg 1983, pp. 187-189.
Levi, Iakov: Freud und (Theodore) Reik - Was Moses an
www.geocities.com/psychohistory2001/WasMosesAnEgyptian.html , July 20,
Levy-Valensi, E. Amado: Le Moïse de Freud ou la référence
occultée, Monaco 1984.
Merkur, Dan: Moses and Civilization: The Meaning Behind Freud's
Myth: By Robert A. Paul (1996), Religion, Volume 30, Issue 1,
January 2000, University of Toronto, pp. 76-78.
NN: Was Moses an Egyptian? Psycho-Analysis of Monotheism - Dr
Freud on the Jews, Times Literary Supplement, May 27, 1939, p. 312.
NOMOS International Conference: Freud's Moses and the
Traumatized Human Subject. Ramifications for Culture and Education,
at Columbia University, New York City, October 16-17, 2004, - published
on-line at www.CERobins.com
Paul, Robert A.: Moses and Civilization: The Meaning Behind
Freud's Myth, Yale University Press, New Haven CT, 1996.
Radzinowicz, Mary Ann: "Tendentious purposes": Milton and Freud
on Moses, Criticism, Vol. 35, Summer (6/22/93), 1993.
Rice, Emanuel: Freud and Moses. The Long Journey Home,
Albany NY, State University of New York Press, 1990.
Robert, Marthe: D'Oedipe à Moïse: Freud et la conscience juive,
(transl. "From Oedipus to Moses", London 1977), Paris 1974.
Rosenvasser, Abraham: Egipto e Israel y el monoteismo Hebreo: A
proposito del libro Moisés y la religión monoteista de Sigmund Freud,
2nd ed., Buenos Aires University Press, 1982.
Roth, Nathan (Review): A Godless Jew: Freud, Atheism, and the
Making of Psychoanalysis: By Peter Gay (1987), Journal of American
Academy of Psychoanalysis, 17, 1989, pp. 682-683.
Sabin, Stefana: Freud's Moses as a Trope af Memory, Studia
Hebraica, 3, 2003, pp. 355-361.
Said, Edward W.: Freud and the Non-European, with
Jacqueline Rose (Foreword, Introduction), Christopher Bollas
(Introduction, Afterword), London and New York NY, Verso, 2003.
Schlossman, Howard H. (Review): Freud and Moses. The Long
Journey Home: By Emanuel Rice (1990), Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 62,
Schorske, Carl E.: (Moses in) Freud's Egyptian Dig, The New
York Review of Books, May 27, 1993, pp. 35-40.
Shapiro, Theodore (Review): Freud's Moses: Judaism Terminable
and Interminable: By Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi (1991), Journal of the
American Psychoanalytic Association, 42, 1994, pp. 904-908.
Spaeth, Ove von: (Freud in:) Historical Research Inhibited by
Odd Portrait of Moses, chapter 8 of the author's The Suppressed Record.
Moses' Unknown Egyptian Background, "Assassinating Moses, Vol. 1",
2.ed., Copenhagen (1999) 2004,, pp. 60-68. (Spaeth, Ove von:
Forskningen hæmmet af kunstigt Moses-billede, kap. 8 i forfatterens
"De Fortrængte Optegnelser. Moses' ukendte historiske baggrund. -
Attentatet på Moses, bind 1", 2.udg., København (1999) 2004, pp. 60-68.
Stemberger, Brigitte: Der Mann Moses' in Freuds Gesamtwerk,
Kairos, 16, 1974, pp. 161-225.
Strachey, James Beaumont: Editor's Note to Moses and Monotheism,
Standard Edition, 23, 1964, pp. 3-5.
Walzer, Michael: Exodus and Revolution, (Basic Books),
Weissberg, Liliane (Review): Freud and the Legacy of Moses: By
Richard J. Bernstein (1986), The Jewish Quarterly Review, New
Series, Vol. 91, No. 1/2 (Jul.-Oct.), 2000, University of Pennsylvania
Press, pp. 272-275.
Williams, James G.: Freud's Moses: Judaism Terminable and
Interminable: By Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi (1991), COV&R-Bulletin, No.
3 (Sept.), 1992, p. 10.
Wistrich, Robert S. (Review): Freud's Moses: Judaism Terminable
and Interminable: By Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi (1991), AJS Review
(Association for Jewish Studies), Vol. 18, No. 2, 1993, Cambridge
University Press, pp. 326-329.
Yerushalmi, Yosef Hayim: Freud's Moses: Judaism Terminable and
Interminable, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1991.
Zeligs, Dorothy F.: Moses: A Psychodynamic Study,
"Psychoanalysis and the Bible: A Study in the Depth of Seven Leaders",
New York (1974, 1986), 1988.
god, Osiris, representing the concept of re-birth.
The ancient religions fascinated Freud and at the same time he strongly
Postscript: The psychoanalytic research pioneers, in particular
Sigmund Freud and Carl G. Jung, had at an early stage discovered that many
people in their subconscious mind again and again were in contact with
specific themes, situations, images and symbols, all characteristic of the
classic western cultural spiritual world thousands of years ago. Many were
concerned with the question of whether the psyche is mostly a product of
At the same
time as Freud had begun his research, in the late 1800's, the European
fine arts were keenly interested in the classic art ideals. Students from
the Royal Academy of Fine
Arts in Copenhagen went each year on study tours to Greek and Roman sites
and brought home
casts of the figures. The academy's collection owns now correct
reproductions from the time
before the old statues and reliefs were destroyed by air pollution.
Ove von Spaeth studying a perfectly preserved horse image from the Parthenon
temple in Athens,
a relief fragment which Lord Elgin by his rescue operation 100 years prior
to Freud's era did not
bring to England. All of us, now in modern times surrounded by modern forms
of design, are still
deeply fascinated by the archetypal style.
- net-base for a collection of Ove von Spaeth' articles.
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You are here: Related articles by Ove von Spaeth (c)
A special treasure of knowledge and wisdom
of Greece, Rome, and the Renaissance had originated in Ancient Egypt -
and was here known to connect also with the historical Moses' dramatic
fate and mystery.
Ove von Spaeth has
written an intriguing, new-orientating work presenting this still
influential background of our civilization. • His interdisciplinary
research on history, archaeology, and anthropology goes deeply into
Egyptian tradition, history of religion, initiation cults, star-knowledge,
and mythology - relating to biblical studies, the Rabbinical Writings,
and the authors of Antiquity. • Each volume offers unique insights not
Special information is
presented by clicking on the individual cover illustrations: