Moses a Figure of Controversy


Damien F. Mackey


“Freud had argued that Akhenaton, the supposedly monotheistic Egyptian pharaoh, was the source of the religious principles that Moses taught to the people of Israel in the desert”.


Moses the Lawgiver, so revered within the Judaeo-Christian tradition, appears to be a figure of enormous controversy amongst certain highly-respected scholars and writers. From at least the time of Sigmund Freud and his book, Moses and Monotheism (1939), Moses has been presented as an enlightened Egyptian (


Freud was quite interested in Jewish history. At his time, persecution and hatred for the Jewish people was quite common. Being a pioneer in the field of psychoanalysis, he set out to investigate the origins of the Jewish people. Among his most astonishing claims was that Moses was not of Jewish. For one, the name Moses is not of Jewish origin and can be traced back to ancient Egyptians. The book is an attempt to apply psychoanalysis to the field of history. An extension on his earlier works such as Totem and Taboo. In keeping with his suggestion about the primal father, Freud argues that a small band of individuals, which Moses led out of Egypt during a time of great civil war, conspired against him and eventually killed him.

[End of quote]


In more recent times, the concept of Moses-as-an-Egyptian has been taken up by Ahmed Osman in his book, Out of Egypt: The Roots of Christianity Revealed (Century, 1998). In Part I, Osman presumes to identify Moses with the peculiar (my description) 18th dynasty pharaoh, Akhnaton.



I wrote an unsympathetic review of this bizarre distorting of history in my article:

Osman’s ‘Osmosis’ of Moses. Part One: The Chosen People


Freud’s book on Moses had also been a catalyst for Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky’s revision of ancient biblico-history. In The Velikovsky Encyclopedia, we read:


In 1939, with the prospect of war looming, Velikovsky travelled with his family to New York, intending to spend a sabbatical year researching for his book Oedipus & Akhnaton (which, inspired by Freud’s Moses and Monotheism, explored the possibility that Pharaoh Akhenaton was the legendary Oedipus). Freud had argued that Akhenaton, the supposedly monotheistic Egyptian pharaoh, was the source of the religious principles that Moses taught to the people of Israel in the desert. Freud’s claim (and that of others before him) was based in part on the resemblance of Psalm 104 in the Bible to an Egyptian hymn discovered on the wall of the Tomb of Akhenaton’s general, Ai, in Akhenaton’s city of Akhetaten. To disprove Freud’s claim as well as to prove the Exodus as such, Velikovsky sought evidence for the Exodus in Egyptian documents. One such document was the Ipuwer Papyrus which reports events similar to several of the Biblical plagues. Since conventional Egyptology dated the Ipuwer Papyrus much earlier than either the Biblical date for the Exodus (ca. 1500 – 1450 BCE) or the Exodus date accepted by many of those who accepted the conventional chronology of Egypt (ca. 1250 BCE), Velikovsky had to revise or correct the conventional chronology.

[End of quote]


Velikovsky had, for his part, his own idiosyncratic view of Moses, to which I referred in my:

Distancing Oneself from Velikovsky

with reference to Martin Sieff:


Velikovsky was a Jewish nationalist, according to Martin Sieff in his most interesting paper, “Velikovsky and His Heroes” … and consequently his heroes seem to have been more the ‘baddies’ of the Bible (Saul, Ahab), [since these were the nationalistic types] rather than the ‘goodies’ (Moses, Isaiah). But whether or not Velikovsky believed in God, not to have done so would not disqualify him from being able to arrive at a right synchronism for the Eighteenth Egyptian Dynasty, which I believe he achieved. Sure, his original model was defective and needed modifications in various places. But the final result has been an impressive platform for the re-building of ancient history upon proper foundations. His critics, including Clarke, have not been able to come anywhere near it.

[End of quote]


A major obstacle to the progress of the Velikovsky-inspired revision was the academically entrenched – and, purportedly, astronomically-fixed – “Sothic” (Sirius star) theory of ancient Egyptian history as worked out by the Berlin School chronologist, Eduard Meyer. Thankfully, pioneer revisionists such as Drs. Velikovsky and D. Courville, followed by other bright minds, have been able to blow holes in this absurdly artificial scheme.

See also my:

The Fall of the Sothic Theory: Egyptian Chronology Revisited


This Eduard Meyer was also the one who had denied the very existence and work of Moses. We read this information in the Preface to Martin Buber’s book, Moses (1946):


IN the year 1906 Eduard Meyer, a well-known historian, ex­pressed the view that Moses was not a historical personality.

He further remarked:


“After all, with the exception of those who accept tradition bag and baggage as historical truth, not one of those who treat him as a historical reality has hitherto been able to fill him with any kind of content whatever, to depict him as a concrete historical figure, or to produce anything which he could have created or which could be his historical work.”

[End of quote]


Admittedly Moses – not a native Egyptian, but a Hebrew fully educated in Egyptian wisdom (Acts 7:20-22): “At that time Moses was born, and he was no ordinary child. For three months he was cared for by his family. When he was placed outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him and brought him up as her own son. Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action” – has been most difficult for historians to identify in the Egyptian records. Impossible for conventional historians, who will always be searching in the wrong historical period, underpinned by its archaeology, but also difficult for revisionists.

My own hopeful attempt to identify Moses as a high official in ancient Egypt can be found in articles such as, for instance:


Moses – May be Staring Revisionists Right in the Face

Era of Biblical Moses Necessitates Re-alignment of Egyptian Dynasties Part One: Moses as a High Egyptian Official


It is apparent from the Scriptures that Moses lived his life in three 40-year stages: (i) From his birth to his flight into Midian; (ii) His long sojourn in Midian; and (iii) As a prophet of Israel, from the Exodus to his death outside the Promised Land. Can we trace the pattern of his life for (i) above – the ‘Egyptianised’ Moses (Acts 7:22) – in relation to the Egyptian kingdoms and dynasties?

Era of Biblical Moses Necessitates Re-alignment of Egyptian Dynasties. Part One (b): Moses as a High Egyptian Official



Pharaohs Khufu, Teti, Amenemhet I and II: Four Faces, One Ruler


Finally, regarding Eduard Meyer’s “… anything which [Moses] could have created or which could be his historical work”, see my:

Tracing the Hand of Moses in Genesis


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