[b-hebrew] Moses

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Fri Jul 30 11:23:05 EDT 2004

> On Friday, July 30, 2004, at 12:10  AM, Yigal Levin wrote:
> > Thanks for the explanation. The etymology, or perhaps etiology, given
> > for
> > Moshe in Exodus is obviously legendary,
> Wait a second. How is it "obviously legendary"? Did anyone stop to
> consider that the ark of reeds story was indicative of an actual ritual
> of future rulers in the ANE? And that explains its multiple occurrences
> just as well as the going theory that it is simply a borrowed story with
> no real meaning to the Hebrews at all?
> Best Salaams,
> Brian Roberts

Hi Brian,

How do you know that baby Moses, or baby Sargon, was considered "a future
ruler"? Anyway, risking the future ruler's life is not a very good way to
ensure his future. It is much more likely that this is a literary motif that
was used in various ANE literary works, including Exodus.
But that was not what I meant by the "obviously legendary" etymology or
etiology for the name "Moshe". As Marianne pointed out, why would an
Egyptian princess give her foundling a name that with a meaning in Hebrew.
How would she know that "Mosheh" sounds like "Mishitihu" - "I have drawn
his" (from the water)? Far more likely that "Moshe" was a proper Egyptian
name, to which the biblical writer, or the tradition that he reflects, then
attached a meaning that reflected the story. I cannot say whether the story
was actually inspired by the meaning attached to the name, or whether that
was coincidence.
Moshe, by the way, is not the only Egyptian name in the Exodus story. Look
at Hur (father of Bezalel from the tribe of Judah), whose name is the
Egyptian form of the god Horus. I have read that "Aaron" is also Egyptian,
but I'm not sure about that one.


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