Sigmund Freud, a known psychologist proposed a very important idea that became a major controversy of his time. Using a theory which they refer as the “Heroes Myth”, he explained the personality of Moses as being an Egyptian and that his leadership and heroism in taking the Jews out of Egypt was a manifestation of his desire in establishing a monotheistic religion which no one in Egypt accomplished and sustain. His explanations and justifications were based on psychological foundations as they converge on the context of purpose, the real purpose of Moses. In our own personal evaluation Freud’s proposition maybe highly acceptable.
In fact it became a universal question why does a race, such as the Jews, claiming to be God’s chosen, wait someone raised in Egypt and educated by Egyptians to remove them from bondage. If indeed Moses heroism did not came from God, as the point of Freud, then Moses, as an Egyptian who claimed to become part of the Jewish race and lead them against Pharaoh must have some deep sense of purpose. In an attempt to prove his claim that Moses who wanted to establish himself a hero by creating a monotheistic religion is an Egyptian Sigmund Freud used the “Heroes’ Myth” a theory which he himself initially perpetuated.
We noticed that the flow of the stories was orchestrated from the publication of the “Heroes’ Myth” idea and the first claim of Freud on the real motives of Moses. As a personal critical evaluation, we stand to show in this essay that the desperate move of Freud to elucidate his ideas into the world based on origin of Moses name and the use of “Heroes Myth” has failed to be convincing to many critical thinkers. The Heroes’ Myth: The “Heroes’ Myth” is a proposed structure of events which was commonly used by heroes of old times to justify their rise to heroism.
Citing Freud’s account of the myth it flows like this: The supposed hero must come from a noble or influential family, a king at that. He would be conceived and born in unusual situations such as out of temporary infertility, from something like forbidden sexual relationship, or such other unusual situations. His conception or birth would be foretold or prophesied to have some effects to the kingdom or may brought some changes or other predicaments on the part of the family.
As a result his immediate family, a mother or any members would want him dead by all means. To save him someone, a mother, a sister, or other personalities would pack him in a basket and through him to the river. This is just a special example but other means of saving him could be possible. Some turn of events would lead to the baby being saved by another inferior or family of lower stature. From then the hero would rise to his might and claim the status and glory. Most of heroic stories are mythically tailored upon this structure.
This is the pattern which was even claimed by a lot of mighty men from history like Sargon of Agade, the founder of Babylon about 2800 B. C and other figures mentioned by Freud such as: Oedipus, Karna, Paris, Telephos, Perseus, Heracles, Gilgamesh, Amphion, and Zethos. Moses story was therefore among those mentioned. The mythical flow of events was proposed in a book written by Otto Rank in 1909 which, according to Freud’s account was published through his suggestions.
There are absolute possibilities therefore that its contents may also have Freud’s influence as a prelude to an idea he was planning to publish later. How is the Heroes’ Myth significant for Freud’s analysis of the historical Moses? The myth is highly important in explaining Freud’s claim about the historical Moses. The Moses story is a good fit into the “Heroes Myth”. If the story on the rise of Moses to heroism is not real, then this pattern must have been used to create the mythical story of Moses.
The twists however mentioned by Freud that the flow of events was reversed as Moses was from an inferior family and was saved by a noble family can be viewed as a real twist if one look at it at the Egyptian side. But since Moses positioned himself with the Jewish race, the Moses story is in absolute parallelism with the myth. Most of the accounts of exodus in the Bible can be traced to the writings of Moses. If the beginnings of the exodus stories can be a creation of Moses himself then Freud’s ideas could be acceptable and that as he proposed, the motives of Moses, as an Egyptian could be real.
Is his account `psychological`? The motives of establishing a monotheistic religion was not unique on Moses alone as it had been tried by other rulers of Egypt. The sustenance of the early monotheistic religions established prior to Moses survived only once the ruler was alive but vanished when he died. In integrating these attempts of prominent Egyptian leaders, Freud personally realized this was the guiding ideas why Moses made the attempt. And that it was easy for him to try the idea with another race that had been practicing it.
The Jews were the biggest chance. This was indeed the psychological tenet behind his claims that Moses was actually an Egyptian seeking fame at the expense of the Jewish people of his time. What are the weaknesses and strengths of his account? Although Freud admitted that Moses story is unique compared to the stories of most heroes he mentioned in the sense that the process was reversed from the hero being born from an inferior family and raised in a royal or influential one.
He is quick to propose that this twist was a manipulation in order to support Moses motives to become a hero for an oppressed race in the light of his plan of establishing a monotheistic religion. But analyzing clearly on the accounts of Freud’s justifications, he failed to mention some minor details of the uniqueness of Moses story. Although some details may fit in the heroes’ myth like the basket and the river some important details such as the sister rearing him during his growing times and the figure of Aaron who even shared in the limelight.
The heroism of Moses is shared not claimed by himself alone. The justifications of Freud on the divergence of Moses story from his reference “heroes’ myth” were a clear manifestation of his obsession to prove that Moses was an Egyptian and not a Jew. Moses could not be Egyptian based on name alone Freud justified the claim of the Egyptian nationality of Moses by showing evidences on the nature of his name. Freud can prove beyond reasonable doubt that the name Moses is Egyptian, of course since he dug up all materials to support his claim.
But he could not prove 100% that a name can identify totally his nationality. It is highly admissible that Moses is a real Egyptian name, even if Moses himself would claim it is Jewish. The fact that he was raised in Egyptian custody, taught in Egyptian school, and immersed in Egyptian cultures, even his accent could have been Egyptian, but his blood is Jewish. In fact the Bible traces his lineage in the Jewish clan, and he had physical family in the Jewish race who even exist with him and continued to exist even the post Mosaic era. Conclusion
The scholarly explanation of a certain events of the past can only stand with convincing evidence. But evidences with a lot of assumptions as against with limited ones can be lighter in value. In principles, it is safe to admit that Moses existence was a real story and a continuation of earlier ones in the Jewish history. Claims of other psychologists, archeologists, philosophers, and other personalities against an accepted fact may arise but they can only stand if in the flow of times more and more are living on it. As for Sigmund Freud, it was enough that the ideas had created a point of scholarly discussions.