Are Moses and Pharaoh Akhenaten Same Personalities?

Moses is a prominent figure both in the Bible and Quran. He has been described as a prophet, leader and lawgiver. According to the Book of Exodus Moses was born at Goshen (in lower Egypt) and was adopted by a member of the Egyptian royal family. Later Moses flees across the Red Sea to Midian. He leads the Exodus and takes the Israelites out of Egypt to their new base at Mount Sinai across the Red Sea. He receives the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai and then dies at the age of 120 after wandering through the deserts for 40 years. This is as much we know about Moses from the Bible.

Statue of Moses at San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome

Artapanus’ Account of Moses

Now let us run through some Egyptian texts. According to Artapanus Israelites were being executed by a Pharaoh named Palsmanothes, but his daughter Merris adopted a Hebrew child and the young Prince was named Mousos, later Merris married pharaoh Khenephres. When Price Mousos grew up he was given the duty of administering the lands on the Pharaoh’s behalf. He even led successful military campaigns against the invading Ethiopians. But his immense popularity made Khenephres jealous and ordered for Prince Mousos’ execution. The Prince fled to Arabia and returned back only after the death of Khenephres and lead the Israelites to freedom. This account presents a similar story to Bible of Moses.

Baby Moses Being Floated Downstream by Royal Midwives

Jesophus’ Account of Moses

In 93 AD Josphus mentioned of Moses in the Ethiopian or the Kushite War. According to him, Moses led the Egyptian army down the Nile Valley deep into Kush or modern day Ethiopia. A stela preserved in the British museum also testified this account. There is also a statue of Khanephres at Kerma dating back to the 13th Dynasty in Egypt. Kerma is many hundred kilometres south of the boundaries of Egyptian empire. May be this place was built to strengthen the Egyptian annexation of Ethiopia and served as the residence of the local governor. Bible states that Moses was forty years old when he fled to Arabia, so he could have easily led this Kushite War.

Moses Preaching his Religious Beliefs

Jacob in Annals of Ramses II

Bible tells us that Moses was the son of Jacob and Jochebed. Annals of Ramses II states that Joseph was sold as a slave in 1720 BC and later was appointed a Governor having powers only second to the Pharaoh. His father Joseph and 70 other family members came to Goshen (where he resided) after a famine struck Canaan (modern day Palestine). Ramases II built grain storehouses for the Israelites.

Statue of Pharaoh Akhenaten

Jewish Texts

According to the early Jewish texts Joseph went to Egypt in the early 15th century. He was soon appointed the chief minister to the Pharaoh Tuthmosis IV. The Egyptians called Joseph the Vizir as Yuya. When Pharaoh Tuthmosis IV died his son ascended the throne after marrying his sister Sitamun as was the Pharonic tradition. He assumed the title of Amenhotep III. The Pharaoh also married Joseph’s daughter Tiye. When Tiye was pregnant it was decreed that if she gave birth to a son, then the baby would be killed. This was done to stop the Jewish influence on the throne. So Tiye was sent to Sarw to give birth to her baby. Eventually she gave birth to a baby boy but the royal midwives floated the baby downstream and the basket bearing the baby reached the house of Tiye’s half brother Levi.

Carving Showing Pharaoh Akhenaten as a Sphynyx

The boy was named Aminadab and he was educated by the Egyptian priests of Ra. Aminadab went to live in Thebes when he was a teenager. By this time his mother Tiye had become more influential than Sitamun who had borne only a girl child named Neferetiti. Soon Aminadab become popular and became a close associate of the Pharaoh. After the death of Amenhotep III he ascended the throne with the title of Amenhotep IV. Soon after coming to the throne he started changing the religious beliefs of the Egyptians. He started the practice of monotheism and took on the title of Akhenaten. He even banished the Ra priests and brought down the temples. The capital of Akhenaten was shifted from Heliopolis to Thebes. But his radical religious views did not go well with the staunch priests and he was banished from the kingdom. Akhenatan fled to Sinai with many of his monotheist followers. He started preaching his new religion from Sinai.

Thus there are close resemblances between the history of Moses and the often interpreted “heretic” king Akhenatan. Recent studies are strengthening their link even further.

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