MOSES IN THE TWELFTH DYNASTY EGYPTIAN LITERATURE by Aris M. Hobeth

MOSES IN THE TWELFTH DYNASTY EGYPTIAN LITERATURE

A Reconstruction
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A garbled attempt to locate the historical Moses.

In this curious volume, Hobeth begins with the non-controversial premise that extra-biblical sources can shed light on the life and mission of the great prophet, and then offers a version of what he believes really happened in ancient Egypt. The author is primarily interested in Egyptian texts, which recount stories that are similar to the biblical account of a long famine, the enslavement of the Israelites and their subsequent flight to the wilderness. One Egyptian record tells of Sinuhe, a man who was involved in a murder and ran away to Midian, where he married the daughter of a local leader. Certainly, there exist parallels between that account and the story in Exodus 2 of Moses’s murdering an Egyptian and taking refuge in Midian. But Hobeth also cites less reliable literature, such as the work of psychic Edgar Cayce, who conducted a trance reading of a woman who was supposedly Moses’s sister. The author also places great stock in the controversial theories of Immanuel Velikovsky, the 20th-century psychoanalyst, ardent Zionist and student of mythology, who argued that the biblical Passover was a comet. Given the author’s reliance on Cayce–who has come under much criticism for his use of anecdotal evidence and testimonials–many readers may find the author’s reconstruction implausible. But it is, nonetheless, lively reading, with plenty of dialogue and vivid descriptions of Egyptian deities (“In the sky…the serpent, or sometimes two serpents spinning and twining, trailing the cow goddess, provided a spectacular and terrifying sight”). Glossaries, charts and family trees round out the account, but the book might have benefited from more information about the author. As it stands, readers may not understand Hobeth’s point of view, his motivations, or his biases.

An interesting undertaking–to compare Egyptian literature and the Bible is certainly a promising project–but ultimately unreliable hokum.

Pub Date: June 1st, 2002
ISBN: 1-4010-3299-0
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online: