Meaning of Moses name

Ben Crick ben.crick at
Thu Oct 29 16:50:46 EST 1998

On Wed 28 Oct 98 (23:10:30), nor at wrote:
> As a new comer to biblical hebrew I am struck by the similarity between
> the name Moses and the hebrew verb 'mashah'  which means 'to draw out'
> or 'to save/rescue'.  When the vocalisation is not used the two words
> are identical in form and I wonder is there some possibility that the
> name Moses may have some link to this verb or indeed is the verb a
> possible source for the name.
> Could the name Moses be a personification of an ancient hebrew myth of
> a rescuer, and not one of the more traditional explanations?

 Dear Noel

 What an interesting question.
 ... WaYeHiY-LaHh LeBeN WaTTiQRa' SheMoW MoSheH WaTTo'MeR KiY MiN-HaMMaYiM
 MeShiYTiHuW: (Exodus 2:10)

 Amram and Jochebed called his name Manasseh (Numbers 26:59, Judges 18:30);
 but Pharaoh's daughter made him "her son" (Exodus 2:10). I don't know any
 Coptic, but could /Mesh/ be the word for "son", which with the 3rd pers fem
 pronominal suffix -aHh makes a hybrid proper noun /MoSheH/?  "Thutmose"
 means "son of god" (=Thut+Mosheh?)

 Josephus identifies Pharaoh's daughter as Princess Hatshepsut, daughter
 of Thutmose I and Queen Ahmes (/Antiquities/ II.9.4-7). He calls her
 Thermuthis after her father, but that's who she is. Josephus indulges in
 a little pseudo-etymology himself on the LXX spelling of Moses (MWUSHS).

 The consensus denies a 15th century BCE Exodus; but as "one of the more
 traditional explanations" there is still a case to be made for it IMHO.

 The story of Moses being drawn out of the river is paralleled by the
 Mesopotamian /Legend of Sargon/, many centuries older than Moses and the
 Exodus. Sargon (Sharru-Kenu) was the first historical king of the old
 Babylonian period. His son Naram-Sin is mentioned in an inscription of
 Nabonidus in connection with repairs made to the ancient temple of the
 sun god at Sippar. I have no other details to hand, I'm afraid.  8-(

 The name MoSheH could be construed as a variant of MaShiaCh, Messiah.
 Deuteronomy 18:18 represents YHWH as promising Moses to raise up a Prophet
 /NaBi'/ "like unto thee". John the Baptist denied he was "that Prophet"
 (John 1:21, 25); but the Woman at the well (John 4:19, 25) and the Man born
 blind (John 9:17) had their suspicions.

 As for a "rescuer myth", the only character that springs to mind is the
 enigmatic Go'a:LiY ChaY of Job 19:25. The Go'eL is a theme fully developed
 in Ruth 3:9ff and Isaiah 41 thru 63, and alluded to in Psalms 19:15 & 78:35,
 Proverbs 23:11 and Jeremiah 50:34. So it is a "myth" no longer. Or am I
 off track here?


 Revd Ben Crick, BA CF
 <ben.crick at>
 232 Canterbury Road, Birchington, Kent, CT7 9TD (UK)

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