Don’t Know Much About History

If you’re a denizen of today you’re going to think Moses had it easy when growing up in the Royal palace in Heliopolis – a home where he would become a spoiled brat, a cynosure of all the grown-ups there, who everyday would coo and coddle him from sun-up to sun-down; from moonrise to dawn.

Actually, Moses had it tough. Other children lived in the palace too. They were the sons and daughters of the many Royals and their minions who made the palace their home. Moses therefore had lots of classmates who kept him becoming too big for his sandals.

Moses’ school curriculum was exacting, being the best education in the world of that time – 3500 years ago. He had, first of all, to learn to read and write – the foundation of any education worth its name. In the matter of writing, which had to be excellent, Moses had to learn to write Hieratic – the shorthand version of the hieroglyphic script. And he had to learn to write the Babylonian cuneiform script, which the diplomatic language of the Levant was written in. Only after Moses had mastered writing, could he begin to study the heavy stuff – mathematics, astronomy, theology, foreign languages, geography, history, music, law, literature, and philosophy.

The educational curriculum of Pharaonic Egypt also required its Royal graduates to speak in public well. This was important for the survival of the Egyptian ruling class, which needed to develop in its future leaders the gift of the gab to enable them to keep mellifluously persuading ordinary Egyptians of the virtues of the Egyptian Way and the divineness of the Pharaoh. To this end, Moses had to learn to speak well, and mellifluously, too.

As well as developing the minds of young Royal Egyptians, Pharaonic Egypt also required them to develop their bodies, the better to hone their athleticism – part and parcel of being well-rounded, and therefore truly educated. Hence Moses’ education included lots of sports. He played field-hockey and handball, did archery and gymnastics, weight-lifting and the high-jump, participated in tugs-of-war and tugs-of-hoop, threw the javelin, fished, boxed, wrestled, swam, rowed, and ran marathons.

The physical and athletic part of the education of Moses, and of Royal sons generally, also naturally prepared them to be officers in the Egyptian army, for, as the leading power in that region, Egypt had many enemies lurking on its borders who every so often persuaded themselves they were the equal of any Egyptian, and so would kill any Egyptians they came across. Egypt therefore needed a large army to remind these upstarts every so often who was boss. Egyptian military campaigns into the territories of these upstarts were therefore the norm.

Moses, as a future officer, was therefore trained in the military disciplines, which, in addition to the usual marching and saluting, included how to wield expertly the weapons to kill upstarts efficiently – slings, maces, spears, battle-axes, bows-and-arrows, swords, scimitars and daggers. He also learned horseback riding and charioteering.

Moses, with all this education and training, as well as the good looks and charm that had so beguiled Hatshepsut and the Pharaoh, was likely to attract lots of girls who might distract him from his earthly mission. How he dealt with them is still to be told……..

Sources:
– Exodus 2
Women in Scripture
Bible Archeology
– The Perplexing Historical Moses

Advertisements
Posted in Exodus 2 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

The Green-Eyed Monster

“Although I’ve agreed you can adopt Moses” said the Pharaoh to Hatshepsut, “there’s still the problem that you don’t have a husband. We Egyptians are a nation of Family Values, which means any woman having a child must have a husband. It doesn’t matter if the child is adopted or is born to you, it must have a legal father, which is your husband. This is the Egyptian Way.”

“But I can’t find a man I’d like for a husband,” said Hatshepsut. “No man, as far as I can see, is suitable for me. I don’t want to settle for second-best. I want only the best.”

“Stop thinking only of yourself,” said the Pharaoh, “you’re too self-centered. You’re a…….a………narcissist. Yes, that’s what you are. Remember, as a royal princess, everything you do must be for the good of Egypt, even if it isn’t for the good of yourself. It’s not about you. It’s about Egypt.”

“You’re the one to talk” said Hatshepsut. “Because you can’t bear the thought of not having me in your life, you’re allowing me to adopt Moses and have him live here in the Royal palace, even though you think that, when he’s grown, he’s going to bring about the downfall of Egypt – the very Egypt you are as Pharaoh duty-bound to preserve protect and defend. And you accuse me of putting myself before the good of Egypt? That’s rich, is all I can say.”

“I didn’t say Moses was going to be the one who’ll bring about the downfall of Egypt, only that he may be the one who’ll do this, based on what my sacred counselors have said. I’m simply giving Moses, and you, the benefit of the doubt.”

“What a rationaliser you are, father. A hypocrite is more like it.”

“If I am, daughter, it’s because although I’m the Pharaoh, I’m also a man with all the weaknesses of a man, and I have a weakness for you. I’m confessing this not only to you, but also to the Sun God Ra, who can strike me down any time He wishes. But He hasn’t, at least not yet. I’m taking this to mean I must be alright with Him, at least for the present. But now, I want to get back to what I was saying before I got side-tracked, which is you’ll have to have a husband if you’re to bring up this boy Moses as your son.”

“Do you have a man in mind, father?”

“I do as a matter of fact. Your half-brother Thutmose junior.”

“Thutmose junior?!! You have to be joking if you think I’d want Thut junior as my husband. The very thought of coupling with a half-brother is a turn-off for me in itself. Quite apart from this, he’s sick all the time, always sneezing and coughing and spitting. And he’s a half-wit to boot. All this, together with his receding chin, protruding rotting teeth, pink piggy eyes, fleshy bulbous nose, and elephantine ears, makes him the most unappealing specimen of manhood I can think of. You have a good sense of fun, father, ha ha ha…….”

“I’m deadly serious, daughter. Thut junior, as my oldest son, even though by my secondary wife Mutnophret, will take over as Pharaoh when I die, which I expect will be quite soon.  But, if you marry him, you could control him so completely, you’d be the Pharaoh in all but name. Thut junior, being all the things you so accurately described him as, will become just a figurehead Pharaoh when I die. But you, with your beauty, intelligence, and ambition, will have all the power. Thut junior won’t be Pharaoh too long because he’s so sickly he’s going to die early. When he does, you can succeed him as the recognised Pharaoh if you play your cards right. I hope you now see, daughter, that Thut junior will be the perfect husband for you.”

“Yes, yes, I do see this, father. You’ve obviously thought this through carefully. I thank you for this from the bottom of my heart. All things considered, Thut junior’s hand in marriage is an offer I can hardly refuse, for I do admit to a consuming desire to become the Pharaoh  some day. The path to this that you’ve laid out, does seem to me the most practicable, while I accept it won’t be the most pleasurable. I mean, just the thought of giving my body to Thut junior in a marriage bed is causing me stomach pains even while I’m talking.”

“And the thought of you giving your body to Thut junior in any bed, let alone a marriage one, is causing me stomach pains too, daughter. I’m assailed by the green-eyed monster even though I’m old. Even when in the ecstasies of my couplings with your mother Ahmose, or with Thut junior’s mother Mutnophret, it’s you who occupies my thoughts.”

“Just enjoy them, father.”

Sources:
– Exodus 2
Women in Scripture
Bible Archeology
The Perplexing Historical Moses

Posted in Exodus 2 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Wishes and Commands

“I see what you mean, daughter. Young Moses is indeed an extraordinary boy,” said the Pharaoh Thutmose I to Hatshepsut as soon as Moses had left the royal chambers after his introduction to the Pharaoh. “All the while my eyes were on the boy, I felt as if in the presence of the Sun God Ra himself.”

“Or the God of the Hebrews?” said Hatshepsut.

“Ah, that droll wit of yours, that is overshadowed only by your beauty which too often makes me think unfatherly thoughts about you,” said the Pharaoh.

“I do hope, father, you’ll allow me to adopt Moses as my son, now that you’ve spoken with him and seen how extraordinary he is.”

“This is precisely the problem,” said the Pharaoh, “he’s so extraordinary I think he’s the very Hebrew boy my sacred counselors warned me about – the Hebrew boy who, when he grows up, will lead his people into bringing down our Egyptian dominion. Were I not now to have him killed, let alone allowing you to adopt him, so that he would live here in the palace in our midst, I’d be signing my death-warrant so to speak, and the death-warrant of Egypt.”

“Your sacred counselors!! Pah, they’re just manipulative and silly old men who want to frighten you, the better they can control you. And, even if Moses should one day bring about Egypt’s downfall, it would be a long time from now, because Moses is still a young boy. Because you’re so old, you’ll likely be dead anyway before all this happens. If you don’t let me adopt Moses, let alone having him killed, I would leave the palace for ever, and you’d never see me again. I would die from a broken heart. If you love me as much as you keep saying you do, you’d be a dead man walking because I’d be gone from your life. Is this not true?”

“Yes, daughter, it is true. Your hold over me is so powerful I can’t describe it. Yes, yes, you may adopt Moses. By allowing you to do this, I’m going to stoke the terrible wrath of the Sun God Ra. So he may strike me dead, even tonight in my bed. But, as you’ve said, I’d be a dead man walking were I to lose you and lose your love. I’ll just let the Sun God Ra do with me as he wishes.”

“I think you’ll find, father, that the Sun God will do nothing. And another thing, I want you to lift your decree that all first-born Hebrew boys be drowned in the Nile.”

“Your wish is my command, daughter.”

Sources:
– Exodus 2
Women in Scripture
Bible Archeology
The Perplexing Historical Moses

Posted in Exodus 2 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Waaaaaahh

With Hatshepsut standing nearby, Moses clung tearfully to his mother Jochebed and father Amram, for the last time.

“I want you always to behave in a way that’ll make us proud” said Jochebed, who was tearful too , but tried not to show it.

“Waaaaahh” wailed Moses, “I don’t want to go. Please don’t make me go. I want to stay with you, waaaaaahh.”

“Stop crying. Remember you’re a Hebrew boy, and Hebrew boys don’t cry” said Jochebed, “If it wasn’t for this nice lady here, you’d be dead, drowned in the Nile.”

“I don’t care. I don’t want to go. Waaaaaahh.”

Come on Moses, let’s go” said Hatshepsut, “you’re going to like it where I’m taking you.”

***

For Hatshepsut, getting Moses to the royal palace in Heliopolis and settling him in there was the easy bit. To tell her father, the Pharaoh Thutmose I, about Moses was going to be the tricky bit.

Hatshepsut spoke to her father the first opportunity she had.

“There’s something I wish to speak with you about, father.”

“Let me guess, you’re with child?”

“Er……….not in so many words, father. But a child is involved. I’ve adopted one. A boy.”

“And without being married? You can’t adopt a boy and not be married. It wouldn’t be proper. And not to speak of unEgyptian. It’s time you got a husband anyway. I’ll find you one. Let me see this boy. Where did you get him?”

Hatshepsut then told in detail how she obtained the child Moses. When she said Moses was Hebrew, her father went suddenly into a convulsion. He fell to the ground, foam spewing from his mouth, his outstretched rigid legs kicking. A physician was summoned. After intense medical procedures, he revived the Pharaoh sufficiently for him to continue his conversation with Hatshepsut.

“Have you taken leave of your senses? What possessed you?” shouted the Pharaoh, on the point of another convulsion. “Do you know I could have you bound, then thrown in the Nile and drowned for adopting a Hebrew boy? Do you know my sacred counselors have said a baby boy will born from among the Hebrews in Egypt, who, when he’s grown, will lead a rebellion to bring down our Egyptian dominion? Which is precisely why I decreed all firstborn Hebrew boys in Egypt to be drowned in the Nile. How can we know that this boy, Moses, isn’t the Hebrew boy my counselors spoke of? If you were going to adopt a boy, why not a bona fide Egyptian boy? I don’t understand you, Hatashepsut. Really I don’t. I mean, if you want a son, why not marry a man and have a son by him, as most normal young women do. Being as ineffably beautiful as you are, you have the choice of a husband from well-nigh any young man in Egypt, none of whom wouldn’t die to take you to wife. What, then, are you waiting for? You know, I’m starting to think your romantic predilections are………how shall I say…………..unnatural? .

“It’s most unfair of you, father, to imply that my romantic predilections are unnatural – as you so quaintly put it. I can assure you, my predilections in that domain are entirely natural. So natural that no man I’ve met can fulfill what I want, which is to be desired not for my beauty, not as some man’s trophy, but for my mind and my spirit, which are who I truly am. I look upon my beauty as a curse, not a blessing, for I can never know what a man really wants me for. He may say he wants me for who I truly am, but he’s saying this only as his means to something more base. Oh, if only I were plain, for, then, if a man wants me, I know he wants me for who I truly I am, not for how I look.”

“So, no man’s good enough for you?”

“Well, no man I’ve met has been good enough for me. But……..were I to meet a man who I think Moses is going to turn out to be, he would be the man of my dreams. When I first laid eyes on Moses I felt as if transfixed. He had something unearthly and spiritual about him I just can’t describe. He has that effect on everyone who sees him. This is why I’ve adopted him, and not an Egyptian boy. You’ll see what I mean when you see him. He’s standing right outside. Come in Moses.”

Sources: 
– Exodus 2
Women in Scripture
Bible Archeology
The Perplexing Historical Moses

Posted in Exodus 2 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bend Them Like Hatshepsut

*The last posting* ended with Hatshepsut taking Moses to live with her at the royal palace as her adopted son. She was the daughter and only surviving child of the Pharaoh Thutmose I and his main wife Ahmose. Hatshepsut had had two brothers, but they’d died early. For Egyptian royalty to die early wasn’t unusual because they were so inbred. A prince could marry his sister; or a princess her brother; or a king his daughter, and no-one raised an eyebrow.

On the other hand, if a man-on-the-street Egyptian married his sister, daughter or cousin, people raised their eyebrows. Hence it was rare for a man-on-the-street Egyptian to marry his sister, daughter or cousin, for he didn’t want to go through life with everyone always looking at him and raising their eyebrows.

While an Egyptian royal was free to marry his sister daughter or cousin, this freedom came at a price – which was that his children from these unions would likely have things seriously wrong with them, like receding chins, withered limbs, noses missing, unsightly skin, and diminished intelligences. These were among the countless congenital maladies that afflicted Egyptian kings, being as they were the products of inbreeding.

You would think, then, that the hardy Egyptian people would soon have overthrown their feeble royal kings. If you think this, you forget that in those days – 3500 years ago – there were no radios, televisions, smart-phones, cameras, computers, or any else of the technological wizardry we today take for granted. Hence almost no Egyptian man-on-the -street knew what his royal rulers looked like, let alone knew in what bad congenital shape they were.

Should a king (pharaoh) go out in public, he was covered from head to foot with robes, so you couldn’t see what he looked like. So you couldn’t see his receding chin, or withered limbs, or the hole in his face where a nose would normally be, or his unsightly skin, or know that his intelligence was that of a child. But, no matter how feeble a pharaoh, his authority was unquestioned and his word was law. No matter how silly or barbaric his policies and orders might be, there were no ends of minions to carry them out.

This was the ambiance in which Moses would be surrounded when he went to live with his adoptive mother, Hatshepsut, at the royal palace. He was fortunate, though, in that all the congenital royal feeblenesses seemed to have passed Hatshepsut by. She was, for one thing, endowed of a beauty so sublime, it reduced men in her presence to bowel-evacuating cowering jackals.  Also,  she was luminously intelligent, was intrepidly courageous, knew her own fine mind, and had a basaltic will. She thought herself in every way the better of men, who she could bend any way she liked.

Sources:
– Exodus 2
Women in Scripture
Bible Archeology
The Perplexing Historical Moses

Posted in Exodus 2 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gratitude

*In those days, 3500 years ago*, whether in Pharaohnic Egypt or anywhere,  mothers suckled their infants longer than they do today. Today, it’s a year at most. Then – 3500 years ago – suckling could last four years. Even longer sometimes.

This was the one thing Jochebed could be thankful for, because extended suckling enabled her to keep her precious baby boy, Moses, with her for a number of years before he went to live permanently with his adoptive mother, Hatshepsut, at the royal palace in Heliopolis.

Giving up a baby is never easy for a mother, not even today. Jochebed can therefore be excused for extending as long as possible her suckling of baby Moses. Even after Moses had ceased suckling, Jochebed continued to tell Hatshepsut he was still suckling.

“This is amazing”, said Hatsheput to Jochebed one day, “it’s seven years now, and you say Moses still isn’t weaned? He looks healthy to me. I know other boys his age who were weaned long ago, and they look as healthy as Moses. Is there anything the matter with him?”

“Nothing at all, ma’am. Not all babies are the same. You can see, can’t you, that Moses is very, very special? He’s unusually beautiful, and unusually intelligent. So, being unusual, he’s going to be unusual in when he’s weaned. You can’t hurry this. If you do, you could damage him permanently. You want him to be perfect, don’t you, ma’am?”

“Of course. Of course. But if he isn’t weaned soon, I’m going to think you’re not being entirely truthful with me, and I’ll have to act.”

***

Jochebed, realising the game was up, told Hatshepsut when next she visited Moses that he was now ready for his new home at the royal palace.

“I would so like it, ma’am” said Jochebed, “if you could allow me to visit Moses at the palace every now and again, in the way I’ve allowed you to visit him at my home every now and again. My heart is broken at giving him up. If I can’t visit him it’ll be too much for my broken heart, and I’ll die.”

“I’m afraid I can’t allow visits. Moses is going to know only one mother from now on. Which will be me. I want him to forget you completely, which he only can if he never sees you again. I’m frightfully sorry.”

“You’ve just signed my death sentence. I can’t go on living if I can’t see my baby boy again.”

“I do understand your heartbreak. You’d have to be a monster not to be heartbroken. Time, though, heals everything, even broken hearts. You and Amram can always have another baby. It’ll make you forget Moses so completely you’ll wonder why you were ever sad at giving him up.”

“This is easy for you to say, ma’am. What if I have another boy? He’ll just be drowned in the Nile according to *the Pharaoh’s decree.*”

“You can rest assured,” said Hatshepsut “that my father will lift this decree. I will persuade him to. I have no doubt on this. I know how to wrap him around my little finger. Trust me.”

“With all due respect, ma’am, you don’t know how broken my heart is at giving up my beloved baby boy. You’re young, rich, beautiful. I also know you’re unmarried and have never borne children. I, on the other hand, am getting on in years, am a poor Hebrew slave, and am decidedly not beautiful. I’ve been long-married and have borne three children. You and I are so different, we could be of different species. You simply cannot know how I’m feeling. You cannot even imagine how I’m feeling, so don’t even try.”

“Even though you’re all those things you described yourself as” said Hatshepsut, “you certainly don’t lack courage, for you would surely know I could order you drowned in the Nile for speaking to me in so contumacious a manner. If Moses has inherited even a smidgen your courage he will do great deeds, and his name will be spoken of in awe by all the generations to come. Were he to remain with you, the world would never know of him. By coming to live with me, he will become immortal. You should be grateful for this, not sad.”

Source: Exodus 2, 10

Posted in Exodus 2 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Gootchy Gootchy Goo

It was a typical July morning in Egypt’s Nile delta. The mid-summer sun was rising into the cloudless sky. The air was muggy. Crows and vultures sat in trees everywhere – the crows screeching nerve-jangling squawks, and the vultures looking down all around for dead animals to feast upon.

The Pharaoh’s only daughter, the beautiful and much-desired Hatshepsut, who lived in the royal palace in Heliopolis, liked to go each morning to the Nile to bathe. On this morning, Hatshepsut, and five ladies-in-waiting, all riding donkeys, wended their way to an area of the Nile bank that offered privacy from onlookers because of clumps of big trees on the bank, and thick masses of reeds in the water just off the bank.

It was in these reeds that Jochebed, earlier that morning, had hidden the *water-sealed bulrush-made basket* with her baby-boy in it. But not so hidden it wouldn’t draw Hatshepsut’s attention.

Jochebed had brought her daughter, Miriam, with her, and had told her to remain close enough, so that when Hatshepsut found the basket and opened it and saw the baby-boy, Miriam would come up and offer to find a woman to suckle the baby if Hatshepsut wished  to adopt him. Miriam would then go off and fetch Jochebed, who would be nearby, and would present her to Hatshepsut as the woman who would suckle the child.

 ***

“What’s that floating out there?” asked Hatshepsut of her ladies-in-waiting.

“Looks like a basket, Ma’am” said Ahset, one of the ladies-in-waiting.

“Odd. I shudder to think what’s in there” said Hatshepsut. “A dead animal?  Putrescent food? I tend to look on the dark side, you know. Living in the palace does that to one. All those intrigues. All those false smiles. I’m the poor little rich girl. I have everything but love. Anyway, I feel I have to know what’s in that basket. Could you wade out and get it? Don’t worry about your wet clothes. They’ll dry. It’s hot enough.”

“There’s a funny noise inside it” said Ahset when she had brought the basket to Hatshepsut.

“That would rule out a dead animal or putrescent food. If it’s alive, it could  be something dangerous, though, like a snake.”

“Doesn’t sound like a snake, Ma’am.”

“Open it.”

Ahset prised open the lid.

“It’s a baby, Ma’am, and a boy. He’s got a circumcision scar. He must be Hebrew.”

“Well, how about that? Oh my goodness, he’s so unbelievably sweet. Gootchy gootchy goo. He’s so, so incredibly beautiful. I’ve never seen a baby-boy so beautiful. I don’t care if he’s Hebrew, I have to have him.”

Miriam, who was close enough she could hear everything, approached Hatshepsut.

“Excuse me, Ma’am. I was nearby and couldn’t help hearing what you said. If you need a wet-nurse to suckle him, I know a woman who would be ideal.”

“Fetch her.”

***

It came to pass, then, that Jochebed got the job of wet-nurse to the baby boy. It tore her heart, but she told herself this was better than that he be thrown into the Nile to drown. Hatshepsut said she would pay her too, until the boy was old enough to come and live with her (Hatshepsut) in the palace.

***

“I’m going to call him Moses” said Hatshepsut to Jochebed, “because I drew him out of the water.”

Source: Exodus 2, 4 – 10

Posted in Exodus 2 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments