Moses & His Mommies [re-post]

Thanx to Cecil B. DeMille and a battalion of artists (because hey, who doesn’t like having a religious excuse to paint pictures of pretty semi-naked ladies?), we “know” what Moses' adopted Egyptian mommy looks like.

Problem is, we still have no idea what she looked like in reality.

We don’t even know who she was, exactly, because we are uncertain of the dates of the events related in Exodus.

Exact dates are guesswork based on ages of Biblical characters and inferences drawn from secular sources.  Suffice it to say there’s a range of about 700 years that the events of Moses’ life could have occurred.

To put that in perspective, the Europeans have only known about North America for a little more than 500 years.  It’s like saying the Pharaoh of Moses’ childhood could have been Hernando Cortes, George Washington, or Barak Obama.

Tradition holds that the name of Moses’ adopted mom was Bithiah, because that was the name of a daughter of a Pharaoh who married Mered, an obscure member of the tribe of Judah in 1 Chronicles 4:18.

Maybe, maybe not.  No hard linkage.

Whoever she was, I don’t think she was in her early 20s.

A young woman in the royal court of Egypt would not be terribly concerned with the fate of a cast off Hebrew infant, no matter how cute he was.  She would be of a marrying/childrearing age, expected to co-rule with her husband and/or brother (ancient Egyptians being somewhat kinky incestuous open-minded on the topic of marital relations).

Now, it’s intriguing to think of Pharaoh’s daughter being much, much younger, perhaps closer to Moses’ age than that of his biological parents.

One can easily imagine a six year old rushing up to her father all excited:  “Oh, look what I found floating in the Nile!  It’s a baby!  Can I keep him?  Huh?  Huh?  Can I?  Huh?”

But the text doesn’t support that.  For one thing, Pharaoh’s daughter hired Moses’ bio-mom to wet nurse him until he was weaned.  I think it’s safe to assume no six year old would have a sufficient attention span to stay enthusiastic about finding a baby if separated from that infant for 9-21 months.

Rather, I think it’s more plausible that Pharaoh’s daughter was quite old, either a widow or a spinster, and definitely childless.

This is not the action of someone who has found the human equivalent of a stray puppy.  This is someone with a clear objective.

Raising a little Hebrew boy as a favored personal slave, well, it’s easy to wrap one’s mind around that.  Sure, why not?  We’ll even treat the kid nice since he’s your favorite.

But making him your son?!?!? That’s an agenda.

This ain’t no school girl whim, this is a clearly thought out act of defiance, a real “in yo’ face” moment for her father, her brother the Pharaoh-in-waiting, and the rest of the court.  It’s not the act of a woman jockeying for position; it’s the act of someone desperate and with nothing left to lose.

(Mind you, none of this alters the meaning and import of the story of Moses, but it sure adds an interesting shade.)

The Story Of Exodus As Imagined By North Americans

Joseph, The First Moral Man [re-post]