Moses and the Pharoah

“Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them.  Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt.  “Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become far too numerous for us.  Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.” So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh.  But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly.  They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.  (Exodus 1:1-14)

workersMoses is one of the great historical leaders of the Israelites, his story is well-known in both religious and secular circles alike; his narratives are found in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.  Exodus tells us that Moses was a son of Amram, a member of the Levite tribe, descended from Jacob and his wife Jochebed.  Moses had one older sister, Miriam, and one older brother, Aaron.  Moses’ grandfather, Kohath immigrated to Egypt with the 70 members of Jacob’s household (Genesis 46:11):  he is part of  the following generations of the Israelites born during their time in Egypt.  It is thought that the story of Moses takes place during the New Kingdom period of Egyptian history, after the rise and the fall of the Hyksos kings.

After the drought and famine that Joseph had seen in his dream end in Egypt, a strong recovery begins.  Most of the foreign masses which had migrated into Egypt during the prior bad times decide to remain there under the prosperity of Joseph’s government.  But after Joseph is gone, weaker men come to power and local disaffected clans see an opportunity to reclaim their power.  The Hyksos kings come to power for 108 years.

THE NEW KINGDOM … 

The era of the New Kingdom begins when Kamose, from Thebes, begins a revolt against the Hyksos kings — his brother, Ahmose, becomes pharaoh and completes the Hyksos’ expulsion from Egypt.  This era features a line of conquering, building, outward-oriented pharaohs who restore Egypt to its place as the power-house in the region.  The Hyksos were a group of Semitic-Asiatics who settled in northern Egypt during the 18th century BC.  In about 1630, they seized power and ruled Egypt as the 15th dynasty (ca 1630-1521 BC)  The name Hyksos was used by the Egyptian historian Manetho, according to Josephus who quotes Manetho’s works extensively, to mean the king-shepherds.  The Hyksos introduced the horse and chariot, the compound bow and advanced fortification techniques into Egypt.  Their chief deity was the Egyptian storm and desert god, Seth, whom they identified with an Asiatic storm god.  From Avaris they ruled most of Lower Egypt and Upper Egypt up to Hermopolis directly.  In an attempt to stave off Map-of-Pharaonic-EgyptKamose’s Theban revolt, they tried unsuccessfully to ally themselves with the rulers of Cush who had overrun Egyptian Nubia (c 1650 BC).

In the Bible Believer’s Archaeology, writes that the following inscription from the reign of pharaoh Kamose was found:

 “The mighty king of Thebes, “Kamose”  . . . His majesty went to his palace and sat down among the council of the Nobles . . . He said to them, Where is my strength? One prince is in Avaris while the other is in Ethiopia. I sit associated with an Asiatic (Hebrew) and a black leader. Each one or them has their own slice of Egypt. (The Israelites to the north, while the Ethiopians controlled the most Southern part of Egypt.) I cannot keep from coming across them as far as Memphis, the waters of Egypt, they have Hermopolis. No Egyptian can settle in the land without coming into contact with the Asiatics.”

       Then the nobles of the council spoke.  “Behold it is Asiatic water as far as Cusae, and they have not spoken ill against us. Whereas we are at ease in our part of Egypt. Elephantine is strong and the middle of the land is with us as far as Cusae. The sleekest of our fields are plowed for us, and our cattle are pastured in the Delta. He has not stolen any of our cattle. He holds his land, that of the water basin, and we hold Egypt. If he would ever come and act against us then we will act against him.”

      Their words offended the Pharaoh and he said: “As for this plan of yours  . . . He who divides the land with me will not respect me.” . . . “I shall sail north and fight against the Asiatics and be successful . . . says Kamose the protector of Egypt. I went north because I was strong enough to attack the Asiatics. . . . “My soldiers were as lions are, with their spoil, having slaves, cattle, . . . dividing all their property.” ANET 232

The Hebrews lose their favored position and after his ascension to power, as foretold by prophecy, the Hebrews were afflicted by the pharaohs until they left Egypt in the exodus.  Ahmose was succeeded by his son, Amenhotep I and when he died, the throne passed to Thutmose I, who was not his son.  Thutmose I expanded the borders of the Egyptian empire to their zenith.  Thutmose II and his queen, Hatshepsut, daughter of Thutmose I, succeeded him. Many scholars believe that it is Queen (Nefure) Hatshepsut, who finds Moses floating in the Nile and who takes him in.  The root meaning of name “Mose” means “to draw out of water” and is fitting for the baby boy who was plucked from the river Nile and into the royal household.  Hatshepsut ruled for 20 years after her husband’s death, as regent for his minor step son who later would become pharaoh as Thutmose III.

NileFromAboveNarrowAnglePharaoh Thutmose III is considered a military genius by many scholars.  When he had been younger, his father’s wife, Hatshepsut, sat on the throne first as a regent for him, and then as pharaoh in her own right for several years before him.  He was finally able to ascend to power in his own name.  In this household, Moses was raised a prince with all the educational advantages belonging to that station in life.  THE LORD had placed him so he would know everything about the ancient world that he would need to lead his people.

Acts 7:22 “And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds.”  Moses, as the son of the greatest queen of Egypt, had all the learning of Egypt at his disposal, and the wisdom of Egypt was unrivaled anciently (I Kings 4:30).

An Egyptian pharaoh and his family would have been educated in math, in the sciences, in literature, in geography and in multiple languages, including Akkadian and Greek.  There were Greek colonists at Avaris in Delta.  A divine future pharaoh (the living god of Egypt) would have spent 40 years of his life becoming educated enough to ascend the throne.  In addition to their academic studies, they would have been trained in generalship, warfare, and religion.

In Exodus, Moses kills an Egyptian that he sees abusing a Hebrew and flees to Sinai.  It’s a furtherance of Moses’ education.  When Moses enters Sinai, he is not, in fact, beyond Pharaoh’s reach.  Egypt had long controlled this region with her claim to the rich copper and turquoise mines that used forced labor camps for workers.  The region is also known for producing a mineral called malachite which is green in color and was widely favored as a cosmetic.  Moses’ sojourn in Midian and the Sinai will be an education in survival for him; a cultural learning about Yahweh.  He will come to know the local and regional tribes and leaders, the dialects, the safe watering sources and gain an understanding of climatic and geographical trade routes.  This will supplement the knowledge he gained from his time in Pharoah’s household.

Moses, from Jethro the Midianite descendant, is taught about the history of Yahweh.  Jethro is said to be a priest; it is likely that since he is a descendant of Abraham, we can assume that he has some knowledge about the God of Abraham and his heirs.

 

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