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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The World of Moses

Nadene Goldfoot
According to the Jewish timeline, Moses was born in 1391 BCE and died at the age of 120 in 1271 BCE.  That was 3,411 years ago in Egypt.  He was born to the slaves Jochebed and Amram of the tribe of Levi in Egypt.  Israelites had wandered into the Egyptian land many years ago and at this period in time, the Egyptians had become worried about their increased growth and had solved the way to stem it.  They had decreed the slaughter of all new-born males of Israelites.  

Jochebed hid her baby Moses among the reeds of the Nile River where he was found by the Pharaoh's daughter who raised him in her own household as a prince.  When he grew up and learned of his ancestry, he took a great interest in them and wound up killing an Egyptian overlord who was beating a Hebrew slave and knew that he himself had to flee or be killed for it.  

He fled Eastward to Midian, which was a Beduin tribe related to the Hebrews where he survived by becoming a shepherd of sheep for the local priest, Jethro, and even married his daughter, Zipporah who gave him two sons, Gersham and Eliezer.  The Midianites would travel in caravans of incense from Gilead to Egypt and later to other countries. 

 The strange thing is that later on in the desert period, the princes of Midian cooperated with Moab against Israel, and even later on conducted a plundering expedition against the Valley of Jezreel, repulsed by the Hebrew,Gideon during the period of the judges.  They lived near the Moabites and Edomites.  From the 2nd Temple times of 539 BCE, the Land of Midian was thought to be located in NW Arabia
The miracle of Judaism lies in remembering and celebrating this event which was the foundation of Judaism, for Moses became the lawgiver for Judaism, though he never knew the name, Judaism, for that was the name of the last of the 12 tribes of Jacob, grandson of Abraham, the tribe of Judah.  They are the ones who carried on the laws of Moses for about the past 3,293 years.  To be able to want to do this shows us how powerful an event this had been.  That's why we read about it every year since then and remember it in our holiday of Passover where we reenact it at our table of special foods with the unleavened bread called matzos that we eat for 8 days in replacement of leavened (with yeast) bread.  We suffer in this way like our ancestors who were led by Moses to freedom of slavery.  

The Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, of that time  was not remembered by his name.  Pharaoh means the "Great House", referring to their royal palace.  People have been guessing since then which pharaoh it was who decreed killing babies to control populations.  
Egypt, the powerful nation
Thutmose IV's rule is significant because he established peaceful relations with Mitanni and married a Mitannian princess to seal this new alliance. Thutmose IV's role in initiating contact with Egypt's former rival, Mitanni, is documented by Amarna letter EA 29 composed decades later by Tushratta, a Mittanian king who ruled during the reign of Akhenaten, Thutmose IV's grandson. Tushratta states to Akhenaten that:"
From Thutmose IV's tomb in Valley of Kings in Egypt
Pharaoh Menkheperure Thutmose IV 1400-1390 BCE
Probably he was the pharaoh that Moses and Aaron, his brother,  had to deal with.  Moses is said to have been born in 1391 BCE, the year before his ended.

" Little is known about his brief ten-year rule. He suppressed a minor uprising in Nubia in his 8th year (attested in his Konosso stela) around 1393 BC and was referred to in a stela as the Conqueror of Syria, but little else has been pieced together about his military exploits. Betsy Bryan, who penned a biography of Thutmose IV, says that Thutmose IV's Konosso stela appears to refer to a minor desert patrol action on the part of the king's forces to protect certain gold-mine routes in Egypt's Eastern Desert from occasional attacks by the Nubians."

The first dynasty of pharaohs goes back far more than Moses does.  Moses was quite recent in Egyptian history.  They started having kings in 3,150 BCE or 5,170 years ago.  The pharaoh we are interested in was not of the old kingdom or the middle kingdom but of the New Kingdom who reigned from 1400 BCE to 1390 BCE and that was Thutmose IV. He was the son of Amenhotep II and ruled at the height of Egypt's power.  This was a period of the rulers of the 18th dynasty.                                      
Son of Thutmos IV:  Amenhotep III  

Or, it could have been the next king who was Amenhotep III, who ruled from 1390 BCE to 1350 BCE and was the grandfather of Tutankhamun.  He was the son of Thutmos IV. Remember,  Moses was born in 1391 BCE, the year before Amehotep III's rule.  

Notice that the intelligence of the Egyptians at this time could only fathom how to draw profiles but not a full face or even a three-quarter face, yet they could draw the front view of the body.  I remember going through that period as a young child in trying to draw the back of the head showing the hair.  I think this is a sign of their mental development.  We teachers of primary grades could understand a child's intelligence by a drawing test called "DRAW A MAN TEST."  i gave points for each part of the drawing.  Naturally, a stick figure was pretty low in age development.  Yet their ability to use clay and such in creating statues was remarkable for even us today.  It could be they just preferred this artistic style.  
King Tut or Tutankhamun , grandson of the pharoah known to Moses:1342-1325 BCE; this is his death mask.  
Limestone crudely carved  Stela of  Pharaoh Thutmose IV
adoring goddess Astarte-of 18th dynasty.
A Torah, First 5 books of Moses:  Genesis, Exodus,
Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy; in Hebrew
called: Bereishis, Shemos, Veyikra, Bamidbar and Devarim;
read every Saturday (Shabbat) morning in a synagogue
out loud to congregation in Hebrew, starting with the Cohens,
then the Levites, then the Israelites. A man will know if he is
a Cohen or a Levite, information passed on through the centuries.
Compare this with the information given to Moses in laws through G-d.  Not only that, but the whole story of Moses is amazing.  How about the 10 plagues brought onto the Egyptians as a result of Pharaoh's refusal to permit the Israelites to leave the country after being there for 400 years?   They were:
1. water of the Nile turning to blood; 2. frogs all over the place, 3. lice attacking man and beast; 4. flies (tsetse) or wild beasts; 5. murrain affecting the cattle (mad cow disease?)(anthrax)(any infectious disease)  6. boils; 7. heavy hail; 8. locusts devouring crops; 9. 3 days of darkness; 10. death of 1st-born of man and beast.  Part of our Seder tells about this every year.   

Since Moses, we have the return of Jews to Palestine causing the birth of modern Israel on May 14, 1948.  In Israel, orthodox Jewry reign.  There are very few Conservative and Reformed Jews living there.  The opposite is true of the USA.  In 2016 it was found that Conservative and Reform outweigh Orthodox Jews 5 times over.  I must add that after living in Haifa and then Safed for over 5 years, one cannot help but become orthodox in their beliefs.  You are living and breathing in the air that does things to you.  Seeing and living in the paths of ancient people of the bible causes one to have goosebumps.  I myself changed from just teaching to become a writer and producer and actress in my own plays.  I wouldn't have done that in the states.  In Israel in 1980 you were a pioneer, and called upon all your resources in helping to achieve anything.  Moses called upon G-d.  Or was it that actually G-d called upon Moses.  

The laws Moses gave us that shaped Judaism are upheld the most in Israel where it all began.  There are 613 laws total we are to follow, most of which are done normally anyway today.  We can certainly appreciate our ancient laws of food and sanitation, like washing our hands, etc, in these modern days of the Corona pandemic.  In fact, that was where we were in trouble many times living in other countries when a plague hit.  They would die and Jews may have lived through it, thought to have brought it about.  The Arabs are trashing us with this ancient accusation right now from Gaza.  

We will miss our family seder during Passover this year due to the Pandemic virus, and hope that all stay safe during this time.  We will attempt to do what we can in order to remember this time and look forward to doing a bang up job of it next year to help our children to remember.  Samayach Pesach, everyone!!

Resource:  The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia
Honest Reporting: We are already seeing antisemites trying to blame Jews and Israel for the coronavirus, journalists accusing Israel of being isolationist or even racist by limiting entry into the country, and of course there’s media bias related to non-virus issues, like Israel’s democracy, borders and security. (4/1/2020)

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