Sigmund Freud and the Jewish Mystical Tradition

By David Bakan | Go to book overview

20
Moses as an Egyptian

What significance shall we ascribe to Freud's thesis that Moses was an Egyptian? From the point of view of all evident tradition Moses was both an Egyptian and a Jew. The wellknown Biblical story has it that he was born a Jew, but was taken into and brought up in the royal household of Egypt. Josephus, the historian, tells us that Moses was a general for Egypt who fought against the Ethiopians, as Freud knew.1

The Zohar, too, asserts that Moses was an Egyptian, (although not in a way to exclude his Jewishness) on the basis of the Biblical passage which relates that when Moses ran away from Egypt in fear of being apprehended for having killed an Egyptian, the daughters of Reuel reported to their father "An Egyptian delivered us. . . ."2 The Zohar even suggests the relationship between the sun (in Freud, Aton) and Moses which Freud asserts. "Moses is dead, and the sun is gathered in and the time has come for the moon to rule."3

But the fact remains that in spite of all Egyptian associations, Moses is still taken as a Jew. Freud's point is that Moses was genetically an Egyptian. Actually, whether Freud's thesis is valid is a question of little moment for our purposes.

-145-

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