Historical Person or Composite Myth

The Biblical character of Moses is at the foundation of the Jewish faith and of consequence to the Judeo-Christian church that arose from it. The Essene Order is suspect of the authenticity of the Biblical and Jewish accounts of Moses, but recognizes some truth preserved within these less than perfect accounts. The writings of the ancient Egyptian historian Manetho is seen as a more reliable account. Manetho (c.280 BC) tells us that Moses was by birth of Heliopolis, and his name was originally Osarsiph, from Osyris, who was the god of Heliopolis; but that when he was gone over to these people, his name was changed, and he was called Moses. In the third century B.C., an important and influential Egyptian priest named Manetho wrote an account of his country’s history. It contained a wealth of information about ancientEgyptand included a chronological record of all Egyptian kings from the beginning of the first dynasty (c. 3100 B.C.) down to the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C.

Josephus Flavius quoting passages concerning the Hyksos from Manetho’s Aegyptiaca

Flavius Josephus: Against Apion


Book 1, section 73


Under a king of ours named Timaus (Tutimaeus) God became angry with us, I know not how, and there came, after a surprising manner, men of obscure birth from the east, and had the temerity to invade our country, and easily conquered it by force, as we did not do battle against them. After they had subdued our rulers, they burnt down our cities, and destroyed the temples of the gods, and treated the inhabitants most cruelly; killing some and enslaving their wives and their children.

Then they made one of their own king. His name was Salatis [1]; he lived at Memphis, and both the upper and lower regions had to pay tribute to him. He installed garrisons in places that were the most suited for them. His main aim was to make the eastern parts safe, expecting the Assyrians, at the height of their power, to covet his kingdom, and invade it. In the Saite Nome there was a city very proper for this purpose, by the Bubastic arm of the Nile. With regard to a certain theologic notion it was called Avaris. He rebuilt and strengthened this city by surrounding it with walls. and by stationing a large garrison of two hundred and forty thousand armed men there. Salitis came there in the summer, to gather corn in order to pay his soldiers, and to exercise his men, and thus to terrify foreigners.
After a reign of thirteen years, he was followed by one whose name was Beon [2], who ruled for for forty-four years. After him reigned Apachnas [3] for thirty-six years and seven months. After him Apophis [4] was king for sixty-one years, followed by Janins for fifty years and one month. After all these Assis reigned during forty-nine years and two months.
These six were their first kings. They all along waged war against the Egyptians, and wanted to destroy them to the very roots.

“These people, whom we have called kings before, and shepherds too, and their descendants,” as he [5] says, “held Egypt for five hundred and eleven years. Then,” he says, “the kings of Thebes and the other parts of Egypt rose against the shepherds, and a long and terrible war was fought between them.”
He says further, “By a king, named Alisphragmuthosis [6], the shepherds were subdued, and were driven out of the most parts of Egypt and shut up in a place named Avaris, measuring ten thousand acres.” Manetho says, “The shepherds had built a wall surrounding this city, which was large and strong, in order to keep all their possessions and plunder in a place of strength.
Tethmosis [7], son of Alisphragmuthosis, attempted to take the city by force and by siege with four hundred and eighty thousand men surrounding it. But he despaired of taking the place by siege, and concluded a treaty with them, that they should leave Egypt, and go, without any harm coming to them, wherever they wished. After the conclusion of the treaty they left with their families and chattels, not fewer than two hundred and forty thousand people, and crossed the desert into Syria. Fearing the Assyrians, who dominated over Asia at that time, they built a city in the country which we now call Judea. It was large enough to contain this great number of men and was called Jerusalem.
Book 1, section 93
I shall quote Manetho again, and what he writes as to the order of the times in this case. He says “After this people or shepherds [8] had left Egypt to go to Jerusalem, Tethmosis [2], who drove them out, was king of Egypt and reigned for twenty five years and four months, and then died; …”
Book 1, section 227

He [5] writes these words: “Those sent to work in the quarries lived miserably for a long while, and the king was asked to set apart the city Avaris, which the shepherds had left, for their habitation and protection; and he granted them their wish.
According to the ancient mythology, Avaris was Typho’s [10] city. But when these men had entered it, and found it suitable for a revolt, they chose a ruler from among the priests of Heliopolis, whose name was Osarsiph [9]. They swore an oath that they would obey him in all things. The first laws he gave them were that they should not worship the Egyptian gods, nor should they abstain from any of the sacred animals that the Egyptians held in the highest esteem, but could kill them, and that they should not ally themselves to any but those that were of their conspiracy.
After making such laws as these, and others contrary to Egyptian customs, he ordered that the many the hands at their service to be employed in building walls around the city and prepare for a war with king Amenophis. He colluded with the other priests, and those that were polluted as well, and sent ambassadors to those shepherds expelled by Tethmosis to Jerusalem, informing them of his own affairs, and of the state of those others that had been treated so shamefully, and desired that they would come united to his assistance in this war against Egypt. He also promised their return to their ancient city and land of Avaris and plentiful support for their people; that he would protect them and fight for them if need be, and that the land would easily be subdued. The shepherds were delighted with his message, and assembled two hundred thousand men. Shortly they arrived at Avaris.

King Amenophis of Egypt, when he heard of their invasion, was perplexed remembering what Amenophis, the son of Papis, had foretold him. He gathered many Egyptians, and deliberated with their leaders, and sent for their sacred animals, above all those worshipped in the temples, and ordered the priests to hide the images of their gods with the utmost care. He also sent his son Sethos, who was also called Ramses, and only five years old, from his father Rhampses to a friend of his. He continued with three hundred thousand of the most warlike Egyptians against the enemy, who met them. But he did not join battle with them, afraid to be fighting against the gods. He turned back and returned to Memphis, where he took Apis and the other sacred animals which he had sent for, and continued to Kush, together with his whole army and masses of Egyptians.
The king of Ethiopia was under an obligation to him and received him, and took care of the masses that were with him, while the land supplied all that was necessary for the men’s sustenance. He gave them cities and villages to live in, that was to be from its beginning during those fatally determined thirteen years. He sent his army to guard the borders of Egypt in order to protect King Amenophis. And this is what happened in Kush.”

This is some of what the Egyptians tell about the Jews, I omit much for brevity’s sake. Manetho continues: “Later Amenophis returned from Kush with a great army, his son Ahampses led another army, and both of them joined battle with the shepherds and the polluted people, and conquered them, and killed a great many of them, and pursued them to the borders of Syria.” These and more accounts like them are written by Manetho.

[0] Tutimaeus: Also Tutimaios, Timaios, perhaps Dedumos? There were two kings of this name during the Second Intermediate Period, Djedneferre and Djedhetepre, variously assigned to either the 13th or the 16th dynasty. Many historians reject the suggestion that Tutimaeus is identical with Dedumos.
[1] Salatis: Salitis, possibly Sheshi
[2] Beon: Yakubber?
[3] Apachnas: Khyan
[4] Apophis: Apepi I
[5] He: Manetho
[6] Alisphragmuthosis: Kamose
[7] Tethmosis: Ahmose
[8] An Egyptian term misunderstood by Flavius: This whole nation was styled Hyksos, that is, Shepherd-kings: for the first syllable Hyk, according to the sacred dialect, denotes a king, as is sos a shepherd; but this according to the ordinary dialect; and of these is compounded Hyksos: but some say that these people were Arabians.” Now in another copy it is said that this word does not denote Kings, but, on the contrary, denotes Captive Shepherds, and this on account of the particle Hyk; for that Hyk, with the aspiration, in the Egyptian tongue again denotes Shepherds, and that expressly also; and this to me seems the more probable opinion, and more agreeable to ancient history.
Josephus Flavius,Against Apion, 1,73
[9] Moses: It was also reported that the priest, who ordained their polity and their laws, was by birth of Heliopolis, and his name Osarsiph, from Osyris, who was the god of Heliopolis; but that when he was gone over to these people, his name was changed, and he was called Moses.
[10] Typho: Set


Osarseph and Exodus: Literary Reflections in an Egyptian Mirror
Delivered at the annual meeting of the International Society of Biblical Literature, Lausanne, Switzerland 1997 by Gary Greenberg


The story of Osarseph, preserved by Josephus and attributed by him to an Egyptian priest named Manetho, tells of the struggles between a rebellious Egyptian priest named Osarseph and a Pharaoh Amenhotep and his son “Ramesses also called Sethos”. Osarseph, according to the story, seized control of Egypt for thirteen years, instituted a reign of terror, and destroyed Egypt’s religious institutions. The pharaoh fled from Egypt and hid his son away for safety. Later, the son returned and expelled Osarseph from Egypt. This Osarseph, says Manetho, was Moses, the biblical hero.

Most Egyptologists and biblical scholars who study this report easily recognize that it tells of events during the reign of Pharaoh Akhenaten, but they uniformly reject the identification of Moses with Osarseph. By concentrating solely on the passage identifying these two figures as one and the same, however, I submit that scholars have overlooked many additional passages that have literary parallels in the biblical Exodus account, but which switch the role of villain and hero.

In this paper I will look at some of these parallel events and show that Manetho’s story of Osarseph and the bible’s story of Moses and the Exodus draw upon many of the same Egyptian literary themes. Among the issues examined are the hiding of the infant from the cruel ruler, the return of the infant later on to challenge the cruel ruler, the “seeing of god”, leprosy, and the city where the slaves worked. The paper will argue that the Exodus occurred during the coregency of Ramesses 1 and Sethos, and that the confrontation between Moses/Osarseph and “Ramesses also known as Sethos” arose out of a struggle for possession of the throne at the death of Pharaoh Horemheb. The Manetho and biblical stories each represent an attempt to identify the hero with the god Horus and the villain with the god Set.

The Jewish historian Josephus, writing in his Against Apion, records a story about an Egyptian priest named Osarseph who leads a revolution against a pharaoh named Amenophis, takes control of Egypt for thirteen years, commits horrendous religious abuses, and is eventually driven out of Egypt by the pharaoh and his son. Josephus attributed the story to a third century BC Egyptian priest named Manetho, who had written a history of his native country. Most scholars familiar with this story have easily recognized that the Osarseph story provides a disguised account of the events surrounding Pharaoh Akhenaten and his monotheistic religious revolution. What makes this story controversial, though, is that, according to Josephus, Manetho said that Osarseph was Moses and that his followers were a collection of diseased Egyptians.

Josephus also quotes a second Egyptian historian, named Chaeremon, a contemporary of his, who tells of the same set of events but with enough variations in the story to suggest that he relied on a source different than Manetho’s. Chaeremon, too, identifies the rebel leader with Moses, but gives him the Egyptian name of Tisathen. However, he also says that Moses had a co-revolutionary leader named Peteseph, and identifies this Peteseph with Joseph, an identification possibly based on the similar pronunciation of the two names.

Almost all biblical scholars and Egyptologists reject the idea of a connection between Moses and Akhenaten, and the two Egyptian stories are simply dismissed as false. Since the portions of the story identifying Moses with Osarseph or Tisathen consist of a single sentence easily removable from the larger account, many scholars have suggested that the insertion resulted from either a forged addition to the original Manetho or a hateful anti-Jewish slur. Others have suggested that Manetho relied on a source from Egyptian records but that the source was erroneous.

The concentration of attack on this one reference has, I believe, prevented scholars from stepping back and looking at the two stories as a whole and comparing them to the biblical account of the Exodus. In this paper, I want to examine both stories and show that together they present the same story-line as the biblical account of the Exodus, and that both the biblical and Egyptian stories utilize a common Egyptian literary motif, which draws upon the Egyptian political myths concerning the struggles of Horus and Set for the Egyptian throne. I also suggest that the Egyptian and biblical stories are describing the same set of political events from a different political point of view.

Let me begin with a summary of the two stories.

The Manetho Story

The main players in the Manetho story are the pharaoh Amenophis, his son “Sethos, also known as Ramesses”, and Osarseph, a priest from the city of Heliopolis, known as On in the bible. Amenophis is the Greek transliteration for Amenhotep, the original throne name of both Akhenaten and his father.

According to Josephus, Amenophis had a desire to see the gods and he communicated this desire to a famous seer. The wise man told Amenophis that he could accomplish his goals if he purgedEgyptof all the lepers and polluted people. Delighted with this news, the king rounded up all such people, to the number of about 80,000, among whom were several priests afflicted with leprosy, but, strangely, instead of having them leave Egypt, he enslaved them in the stone quarries, segregating them from the rest of the Egyptians. When the seer learned what Amenophis had done, he feared that the pharaoh’s actions would bring a violent retaliation from the gods and predicted that the polluted people would join with allies and they would take control ofEgyptfor 13 years.

(As a side note, one should recall that Moses, too, desired to see God, and his actions also seem to have had some connection to leprosy and disease. In the one instance, after asking to see God directly, his face changed in such a way that it frightened the people and he had to wear a veil, a form of cover identified in Leviticus 13:45 with leprosy. In the other instance, in the presence of the burning bush, the hand of Moses turned leprous.)

After a long period of misery the slaves petitioned the king, asking permission to move to the abandoned city ofAvaris, the former capital of the Hyksos kings. There they laid plans for a revolt and elected Osarseph, a Heliopolitan priest, to be their leader. His first orders were not to worship the Egyptians gods and to kill off the sacred animals held in reverence by the Egyptians. He then fortified the walls of Avaris and prepared for war against Amenophis. Next, he sent an ambassador to the exiled Hyksos leaders and formed a military alliance. The Hyksos sent 200,000 soldiers to join with Osarseph’s people.

When Amenophis learned of the coming invasion he remembered the seer’s prediction thatEgyptwould suffer for thirteen years at the hands of its enemies. He arranged protection for the sacred animals and icons and then hid his five-year-old son, “Sethos, also called Ramesses” with a friend – and I note parenthetically, that “Sethos, also called Ramesses” is the name that Josephus uses for the pharaoh’s son.

After making these security arrangements, Amenophis assembled an army of 300,000 ofEgypt’s finest soldiers and marched against the Osarseph-Hyksos alliance. But at the last moment, he had a sudden fear that his actions would be construed as an attack on the gods and, rather than engage the enemy, he pulled back his troops and withdrew toMemphis. There he gathered the sacred animals and withdrew his forces toEthiopia, where the king gave him land and protection.

Osarseph ruled the land for 13 years, instituting a reign of terror. He burned cities, mutilated sacred images, killed the sacred animals and had his followers eat the sacred beasts. At some point during Osarseph’s reign, according to Josephus, the usurper changed his name to Moses.

At the end of the prophesied time period, Amenophis and his son (now confusingly named Rampses—that is, with a letter “p’ inserted into the middle of his name) advanced from Ethiopia with a large army and drove the enemy deep into Syria, killing many of them along the way. And so the story concludes.

Chaeremon’s Version

The Chaeremon version of this story contains some interesting variations. He also refers to the pharaoh as Amenophis but identifies the son only as Ramesses, omitting the Sethos portion of the child’s name. In Chaeremon, however, there are two rebel leaders, one named Peteseph, whom he identifies as Joseph, the Hebrew Patriarch, and the other named Tisathen, whom he identifies as Moses.

In the beginning of this story, Amenophis does not desire to see the gods. Instead, he had a vision in his sleep of the goddess Isis, who reproached him for the destruction of her temple during a war. Worried by his dream, Amenophis seeks advice, and a sacred scribe tells him that if he purgesEgyptof the contaminated people, he would no longer have to be alarmed.

The king rounded up 250,000 such people and ordered them out of the country. Tisathen and Peteseph led the polluted ones to the Egyptian border, but when they got there they found an exiled Egyptian army of 380,000 soldiers belonging to Pharaoh Amenophis. The two forces joined together and marched against the pharaoh. Not to put too fine a point on this, but Chaeremon’s claim here is that Moses was aided by an army belonging to Akhenaten.

Here, too, Amenophis fled toEthiopiabut in this account he left behind his pregnant wife, who hid in a cave and gave birth to the child Ramesses. At some undefined time in the future, when Ramesses has achieved “manhood,” he drove the Jews fromEgyptintoSyria—“Jews” is the word used by Josephus—and brought his father home fromEthiopia.

The Two Stories Compared

It is quite apparent that both stories are about the same set of events, but the differences between them suggest more than one source for the account.

In Manetho, Amenophis desires to see the gods; in Chaeremon he has a vision of deity. In both stories, though, in response to the pharaoh’s concern, a seer advises him to round up the lepers and polluted ones and banish them fromEgypt. In Manetho, Amenophis disobeys the advice and gathers the polluted ones together in the stone quarries; in Chaeremon, Amenophis takes the advice and banishes them.

In both stories the polluted ones rebel against the pharaoh. But, in Manetho, they send for and ally with the Hyksos; in Chaeremon, they meet an exiled Egyptian army and join with them. In Manetho, there are 80,000 rebels and 200,000 Hyksos allies; in Chaeremon there are 250,000 rebels and 380,000 Egyptian allies

In Manetho, the child is five years old when his father fleesEgypt, at which time the youth is hidden with a friend. The child is 18 years old when he returns and drives Osarseph out; In Chaeremon, Ramesses is an infant at the beginning of the rebellion and born in secret, hidden away by his mother. He returns as an adult of unspecified age at the time of his victory.

Biblical Comparisons

Let us now compare the Osarseph/Peteseph rebellions with the biblical account of the Exodus. Plot-wise, the Egyptian story has the following structure:

1. A pharaoh fears that a large group of people living in Egyptrepresent a threat to the throne;
2. He vacillates between letting them leave the country and enslaving them;
3. He also vacillates between confronting them militarily and retreating;
4. He orders them enslaved;
5. After a period of enslavement, they ask permission to journey to another location of special interest to them;
6. A god is to punish the Egyptians for the pharaoh’s act of enslavement;
7. The slaves rise up against the pharaoh and bring great devastation to the land;
8. A cruel ruler comes to the throne and oppresses the people;
9. A child is hidden away from the cruel ruler;
10. The child is raised in the pharaoh’s household;
11. When the child reaches adulthood, he liberates his people from oppression;
12. The former slaves are chased out ofEgypt by the pharaoh.
With just one slight plot twist, this story-line is almost identical to that of the biblical Exodus. In the Egyptian account, the child-liberator is the future pharaoh and the cruel tyrant is the slave leader. Therefore, in the Egyptian story the child is hidden away after the slave revolt while in the biblical story the child is hidden away before the slave revolt. In most other respects, however, the biblical and Egyptian stories are virtually identical.

In both accounts, the pharaoh fears a particular group of Egyptian residents; he enslaves the people whom he fears; the slaves are isolated from the rest of the country; the slaves initially ask to go only to a different location; the pharaoh vacillates between a hard line and retreat; a god punishes Egypt for the act of enslavement; the slave leader causes great devastation to befall Egypt; and the slaves are chased out of Egypt by the pharaoh.

There are also some interesting factual coincidences in the Egyptian and biblical accounts. The most significant concerns the city ofAvaris. In the bible, the Hebrew slaves are assigned to the city ofRaamseswhich scholars generally equate with the Egyptian city ofPi-Ramesses. This Egyptian city received that name during the reign of Ramesses II. But, the original city name was Avaris. So, in both the Egyptian and biblical accounts, the slaves are identified with the same city. Interestingly, neither Josephus nor Manetho seem to be aware of this coincidence.

In the Manetho account, the slaves number about 80,000. In the Book of Numbers, the Joseph tribes total about 85,000 members. In the Chaeremon account, the combined forces of Osarseph’s army number 630,000 soldiers. Compare that with the claim in Exodus 12:37-38 of the Exodus group consisting of 600,000 males plus a mixed multitude.

There is also the matter ofHeliopolis. That city has a close religious link to pharaoh Akhenaten, who worshipped Re-Herakhty, the chief deity of that city. BiblicalIsraelalso has a close religious link toHeliopolisbecause Joseph, upon becoming Prime Minister of Egypt, married the daughter ofHeliopolis’s chief priest.

Horus and Set

The several plot parallels and factual coincidences in the Egyptian and biblical stories suggest a common literary source, but there is still this difficult matter of the role reversal between the pharaoh and the slave leader. To explain this anomaly, we must first examine the chief political myth of Egyptian life.

According to the Egyptians, the god Osiris and his wife Isis ruled overEgyptin a golden age. Osiris and Isis were brother and sister as well as husband and wife. They also had a brother named Set, and a son named Horus. Set wanted to be king so he assassinated Osiris and seized the throne. But the infant Horus was the legitimate heir andIsis, fearful that Set would kill her son, hid him away for safety. When Horus grew to adulthood, he returned to avenge his father. Defeating Set in battle, he assumed the throne and banished Set to the desert wilderness. In the Egyptian mind, all legitimate kings represent the god Horus in a human aspect.

This myth is ancient, its basic structure possibly derived from events surrounding the unification ofEgyptat the beginning of the First Dynasty by Horus worshippers. In the Second Dynasty, political conflict between Horus and Set worshippers again reappears, with at least one king adopting the name Set instead of Horus, and another adopting the combined name of Horus and Set. And between the Twelfth and Eighteenth Dynasties, when the Asian Hyksos kings dominatedEgypt, the Hyksos chose Set as their chief deity while the rebellious native Egyptian royal line continued to identify with Horus.

The political events defining Horus and Set also overlapped in the area of nature mythology, with Set on the one hand being identified with the evil serpent that devoured the sun at the end of each day, and on the other as the mighty warrior that defended the sun against the evil serpent.

Despite the murder of Osiris, a Set cult remained active in Egypt, and, the deity retained a relatively positive image down into the Nineteenth Dynasty. As late as the post-Exodus Twentieth Dynasty, we find an Egyptian story known as The Contendings of Horus and Set, in which Horus and Set sue each other for the right to ruleEgypt, with Re-Herakhty, king of the gods, favoring Set over Horus. The favorable image of Set in New Kingdom times can be seen from the fact that two Nineteenth Dynasty pharaohs were named Sethos after him and Ramesses I and Ramesses II closely identified with the city ofAvaris, which had been dedicated to Set.

With the expulsion of the Hyksos kings, myth and history combined to form a literary iconography, one that is reflected in both the Osarseph and Exodus stories. Set is the cruel usurper who is subsequently driven into the wilderness;Isisis the mother who hides her child from the cruel ruler; Horus is the child who returns as an adult to defeat the usurper and regain the throne.

Amenophis and Sethos

The bible indicates that the pharaoh confronted by Moses had just taken the throne, but it does not identify the pharaoh or his predecessor. In the Osarseph story, the pharaoh who confronted the Moses character was named “Sethos, also called Ramesses.” I suggest that the name “Sethos, also called Ramesses” is a confused description of the very brief coregency between Ramesses I and his son/successor Sethos I.

This identification is somewhat problematic though, because the father is identified as Amenophis, who is either Akhenaten or Akhenaten’s father. Akhenaten came to the throne 59 years before Sethos I, and several other pharaohs ruled in between. But, if we look at Josephus’s somewhat confused rendition of what is represented as Manetho’s Eighteenth Dynasty chronology, with several pharaoh’s out of chronological sequence, we find the unusual sequence of Ramesses I, Amenophis, and Sethos I, with Sethos I being identified as “Sethos, also called Ramesses.” The Amenophis in that sequence, placed in the middle of the coregency between Ramesses I and Sethos I, is obviously Akhenaten, because he is given a reign of 19 years, the combined length of reign for Akhenaten and his coregent. Strangely, Josephus totally ignores this chronological sequence, alleging that the Amenophis in his story is a fictitious king invented by Manetho.

The Literary Model for Exodus

If I am correct in placing Osarseph’s rebellion during the coregency of Ramesses I and Sethos I, then we can place both the Osarseph story and the biblical Exodus story within the literary and political framework of the struggle between Horus and Set.

Ramesses I was the successor to Horemheb. Like Horemheb, he served originally as a general in the army and had no royal blood. His total reign lasted about two years, part as coregent with Horemheb and part as coregent with Sethos I.

The bible makes Moses an adopted member of the royal household. If the pharaoh of confrontation is either Ramesses I or Sethos I, Moses would have had an arguable claim to the Egyptian throne. He was a member of the preceding royal house and neither Ramesses I nor Sethos I had any royal blood ties.

The confrontation between Moses and the Pharaoh, then, was a confrontation over the right of succession to the royal throne, Moses claiming a tie to the royal blood line and “Ramesses, also called Sethos” claiming the legitimate right of succession. Such a conflict would certainly generate an intense propaganda war for the support of the powers that be.

Each side attempted to identify itself with Horus and the challenger with Set. Consequently, each side is identified with the royal child hidden by his mother from a cruel oppressor, and the challenger is depicted as the illegal usurper.

At the same time, the literary model is placed against a background of actual political events growing out of the religious/political feuds between Pharaoh Akhenaten and the Theban establishment.

At first, Akhenaten brought about a hated religious heresy. When he died, a counter-revolution occured. Under Pharaoh Horemheb, an intense political persecution of Akhenaten’s followers took place. When Horemheb died, Osarseph/Moses returned toEgypt, led his oppressed followers in rebellion, and challenged Horemheb’s successor for the right to rule. Civil war loomed in the background. Osarseph/Moses lost the political contest and leftEgyptwith his followers. Each of the disputants depicted the Exodus of Osarseph as a victory over the rival, claiming to have caused great damage to the enemy forces. For a parallel, one might think of Ramesses II falsely boasting about how he single-handedly drove the Hittites into theOrontesand drowned the enemy.

Consistent with the Egyptian desire to suppress all public record of Akhenaten’s existence, no monument recorded the Pharaoh’s victory over his political rival. But non-public versions of the story survived in Egyptian records.

Scribes in both camps framed the historical events within Egyptian literary formats and produced parallel accounts, each portraying their own hero as child-liberator and depicting their rival as the usurping villain. Like backward writing, if we hold both texts up to an Egyptian literary mirror, we can see the true history reflected back at us.


Ezra’s Torah?
Origens of the Old Testament Canon

“The Nasaraeans . . .They acknowledged Moses and believed that he had received laws – not this law, however, but some other. And so, they were Jews who kept all the Jewish observances, but they would not offer sacrifice or eat meat.  They considered it unlawful to eat meat or make sacrifices with it. They claim that these Books (of Moses) are fictions, and that none of these customs were instituted by the fathers.  (Panarion 1:18)
Many scholars have come to the conclusion that the present day Law of Moses could not have been written by Moses, but instead was probably written by Ezra. There is even an apocrypha account of Ezra’s authorship in 4th Ezra.

The combining of the various sources was believed to be the work of redactors. Rje, the editor who united J and E around 650 B.C. provided connecting links to harmonize the materials where essential. Rd added the Deuteronomic writings to the combined JE materials about 550 B.C., forming what might be termed a J-E-D document. P was added about 450-400 B.C. by Rp, completing the Torah. This hypothesis,12 by which the contradictions, doublets, style variations, and vocabulary differences in the Pentateuch were explained, can best be represented by a straight line.


Variations in the Graf-Wellhausen theory have been proposed since it was first expounded in the nineteenth century. Research into the composition of the individual documents produced subdivisions such as J1, J2, J3, etc. for J, and El, E2, and so on, for E until the documents were almost disintegrated by analysis.13 New major sources were recognized by other scholars. Professor Otto Eissfeldt discovered a fifth source beginning with Gen. 2 and continuing into Judges and Samuel which he labeled “L” for “Lay” source.14 R. H. Pfeiffer of Harvard University identified an “S” source in Genesis, so labeled because Pfeiffer believed it came from Seir (in Edom) or from the south.15 The great Jewish scholar, Julian Morgenstern, singled out what he believed to be the oldest document, “K,” which, while in fragmentary form, preserved a tradition of Moses’ relationships with the Kenites.16 Martin Noth of Germany argued for a common basic source “G” (Grundlage for “ground-layer” or “foundation”) upon which both J and E are developed.17

“Along with developments stemming from the basic hypothesis, there have been challenges to certain aspects of the theory, including the dating of Deuteronomy18 and the pattern of development of the sources.19 Other scholars, particularly those representing conservative theological positions, have taken issue with the documentary hypothesis, arguing for the integrity of the Pentateuch and supporting Mosaic authorship.20 Most present-day scholarship accepts the basic premises of the documentary hypothesis — namely, that different source materials are to be found, that the labels J, E, D, P, are acceptable for major sources, and that the order of development is that proposed in the Graf-Wellhausen thesis.”  (Old Testament Life and Literature by Gerald A. Larue)

“During the Persian period toward the close of the fifth and the beginning of the fourth centuries, the last major contribution was made to the Pentateuch. It has already been noted that the accumulation of priestly lore had been taking place in Babylonduring the Exile. Now this process came to an end and the results were woven into the previously combined JE saga and into Deuteronomy.
Within P there are clues that indicate that the final product was the result of editing and selection, perhaps done by one person. There are passages in disagreement, interruptions in continuity and isolated blocks of material.

Scholars usually place the time of the compilation of P in the post-Exilic period14 for a number of reasons.  . . . The identity of the final editor or compiler is not known, but it can be assumed that he was a priest. Ezra has been put forth as a possible candidate, and it is suggested that P was the law that Ezra interpreted and imposed on the people. Unfortunately, these hypotheses cannot be confirmed.(Old Testament Life and Literature by Gerald A. Larue)

Ezra Creates His “Law of Moses”

by Abba Yesai

In Nazorean tradition preserved by the Mandai, the author of the Old Testament is said to be Tavis. Yet it is Ezra who is credited, by Jewish tradition, with the compilation of the books of the Old Testament. Tavis may be a title of Ezra, or perhaps the inspiration behind Ezra’s work.

In this ancient apocryphal acount of 2nd Esdras, or 4th Ezra, the books of the Old Testament are not only said to be put together by Ezra, but actually “channeled”, or written by him! If this account is not historically accurate, it is at least allegorically correct in its assertion that some redactor, about the time of Ezra, wrote down a hodge podge of religious traditions and cultic practices and called it the “Law of Moses”

In this account Ezra laments that there is no existing Law, for all copies of it have been burnt or destroyed upon his return to thelandofPalestine. His solution to this situation is to simply write a new one. Ezra had not been raised with the Law, for he and all his generation had grown up in exile inBabylonwhere animals were sacrificed as a form of worship. Had his generation possessed copies of the true Law during their exile, Ezra would not have said that no copies had survived. With no firsthand knowledge of the ancient Law of Moses, Ezra was forced to write a new and different Law based on his own experiences in exile. Ezra called this new law the “Law of Moses”. Ezra’s “new law” was no doubt based partially on older oral tradition, and perhaps even included scraps of earlier written material, but its main core of animal sacrifice was most certainly not part of the original Law of Moses.

“The Nasaraeans . . .They acknowledged Moses and believed that he had received laws – not this law, however, but some other. And so, they were Jews who kept all the Jewish observances, but they would not offer sacrifice or eat meat.  They considered it unlawful to eat meat or make sacrifices with it. They claim that these Books (of Moses) are fictions, and that none of these customs were instituted by the fathers.  (Panarion 1:18)

The animal sacrifice cult portrayed in Ezra’s Law was condemned by Yeshu (Jesus) and by all true Nasarenes who adhered to the more ancient and true law of Moses. This is shown by a quote preserved from the Gospel fo the Hebrews, which fidns echoes in later channeled writings:

And Jesus answered: “Seek not the law in your scriptures, for the law is life, whereas the scripture is dead. (Essene Gospel of Peace – Szekely)


Apocrypha Acount of 4 Ezra 14,15

[1] On the third day, while I was sitting under an oak, behold, a voice came out of a bush opposite me and said, “Ezra, Ezra.”
[2] And I said, “Here I am, Lord,” and I rose to my feet.
[3] Then he said to me, “I revealed myself in a bush and spoke to Moses, when my people were in bondage in Egypt;
[4] and I sent him and led my people out of Egypt; and I led him up on Mount Sinai, where I kept him with me many days;
[5] and I told him many wondrous things, and showed him the secrets of the times and declared to him the end of the times. Then I commanded him, saying,
[6] `These words you shall publish openly, and these you shall keep secret.’
[7] And now I say to you;
[8] Lay up in your heart the signs that I have shown you, the dreams that you have seen, and the interpretations that you have heard;
[9] for you shall be taken up from among men, and henceforth you shall live with my Son and with those who are like you, until the times are ended.
[10] For the age has lost its youth, and the times begin to grow old.
[11] For the age is divided into twelve parts, and nine of its parts have already passed,
[12] as well as half of the tenth part; so two of its parts remain, besides half of the tenth part.
[13] Now therefore, set your house in order, and reprove your people; comfort the lowly among them, and instruct those that are wise. And now renounce the life that is corruptible,
[14] and put away from you mortal thoughts; cast away from you the burdens of man, and divest yourself now of your weak nature,
[15] and lay to one side the thoughts that are most grievous to you, and hasten to escape from these times.
[16] For evils worse than those which you have now seen happen shall be done hereafter.
[17] For the weaker the world becomes through old age, the more shall evils be multiplied among its inhabitants.
[18] For truth shall go farther away, and falsehood shall come near. For the eagle which you saw in the vision is already hastening to come.”
[19] Then I answered and said, “Let me speak in thy presence, Lord.

[20] For behold, I will go, as thou hast commanded me, and I will reprove the people who are now living; but who will warn those who will be born hereafter?

For the world lies in darkness, and its inhabitants are without light.
[21] For thy law has been burned, and so no one knows the things which have been done or will be done by thee.
[22] If then I have found favor before thee, send the Holy Spirit into me, and I will write everything that has happened in the world from the beginning, the things which were written in thy law, that men may be able to find the path, and that those who wish to live in the last days may live.”
[23] He answered me and said, “Go and gather the people, and tell them not to seek you for forty days.
[24] But prepare for yourself many writing tablets, and take with you Sarea, Dabria, Selemia, Ethanus, and Asiel — these five, because they are trained to write rapidly;
[25] and you shall come here, and I will light in your heart the lamp of understanding, which shall not be put out until what you are about to write is finished.
[26] And when you have finished, some things you shall make public, and some you shall deliver in secret to the wise; tomorrow at this hour you shall begin to write.”

[27] Then I went as he commanded me, and I gathered all the people together, and said, [28] “Hear these words, O Israel
[29] At first our fathers dwelt as aliens in Egypt, and they were delivered from there,
[30] and received the law of life, which they did not keep, which you also have transgressed after them.
[31] Then land was given to you for a possession in the land of Zion; but you and your fathers committed iniquity and did not keep the ways which the Most High commanded you.
[32] And because he is a righteous judge, in due time he took from you what he had given.
[33] And now you are here, and your brethren are farther in the interior.
[34] If you, then, will rule over your minds and discipline your hearts, you shall be kept alive, and after death you shall obtain mercy.
[35] For after death the judgment will come, when we shall live again; and then the names of the righteous will become manifest, and the deeds of the ungodly will be disclosed.
[36] But let no one come to me now, and let no one seek me for forty days.”
[37] So I took the five men, as he commanded me, and we proceeded to the field, and remained there.

[38] And on the next day, behold, a voice called me, saying, “Ezra, open your mouth and drink what I give you to drink.”
[39] Then I opened my mouth, and behold, a full cup was offered to me; it was full of something like water, but its color was like fire.
[40] And I took it and drank; and when I had drunk it, my heart poured forth understanding, and wisdom increased in my breast, for my spirit retained its memory;
[41] and my mouth was opened, and was no longer closed.
[42] And the Most High gave understanding to the five men, and by turns they wrote what was dictated, in characters which they did not know. They sat forty days, and wrote during the daytime, and ate their bread at night.
[43] As for me, I spoke in the daytime and was not silent at night.
[44] So during the forty days ninety-four books were written.
[45] And when the forty days were ended, the Most High spoke to me, saying, “Make public the twenty-four books that you wrote first and let the worthy and the unworthy read them;
[46] but keep the seventy that were written last, in order to give them to the wise among your people.
[47] For in them is the spring of understanding, the fountain of wisdom, and the river of knowledge.”
[48] And I did so.


[1] The Lord says, “Behold, speak in the ears of my people the words of the prophecy which I will put in your mouth,
[2] and cause them to be written on paper; for they are trustworthy and true.
[3] Do not fear the plots against you, and do not be troubled by the unbelief of those who oppose you.
[4] For every unbeliever shall die in his unbelief.”
[5] “Behold,” says the Lord, “I bring evils upon the world, the sword and famine and


Who Wrote the Pentateuch?

A contradiction in the story of Ishmael suggests the story was written by more than one author. The following verses indicate that Ishmael was fourteen years old when Isaac was born:

Abraham begot Ishmael when he was 86

“Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to him.” (Genesis 16:16 NASB)

Abraham begot Isaac when he was 100

“And Abraham was a hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born to him.” (Genesis 21:5 KJV)

It was customary to breast feed infants for one or two years. Presumably, Isaac was weaned one or two years after his birth. “And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.” (Genesis 21:8 KJV) At that time Ishmael was 15 or 16 years old. Sometime after that feast, Sarah became jealous of Ishmael and persuaded Abraham to send Ishmael and his mother, Hagar, away into the desert. Strangely, the author of this account describes Ishmael as a toddler: “So Abraham … took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered about in the wilderness of Be’er-she’ba. When the water in the skin was gone, she cast {Heb. shalak } the child under one of the bushes.” (Genesis 21:14-15 NRSV) Hagar carried Ishmael on her shoulder in the desert, and when she ran out of water she cast him under a bush. A while later, God told Hagar to pick him up and hold him with her hand: “… lift up the lad, and hold him in your hand …” (Genesis 21:18 KJV) The descriptions “putting it on her shoulder, along with the child,” “cast the child under a bush,” “lift up the lad, and hold him in your hand” imply that Ishmael was a toddler. Further on, the writer indicates that this toddler grew up: “And God was with the lad; and he grew …” (Genesis 21:20 KJV)

The Septuagint’s description of Ishmael as a toddler is clearer than the English translations: “And Abraham … put the child on her shoulder, and sent her away, and she … wandered in the wilderness … she cast the child under a fir tree. … and the child cried aloud and wept. … an angel of God called Agar … Rise up, and take the child {Gr. paidion = small child}, and hold him in your hand …” (Genesis 21:14-18)

The writer of chapters 16 an 17 indicated that Ishmael was fifteen or sixteen years old when Isaac was weaned while the writer of chapter 21 indicated that Ishmael was a toddler. This suggests that Moses did not write both accounts. If Moses did not one of these accounts, what else did he not write?

“… there is no god besides Me.” (Deuteronomy 32:39 NASB) This verse declares monotheism (the belief that there is but one God). Moses could not have written it and at the same time write the following verses. “For the LORD your God is God of gods …” (Deuteronomy 10:17 KJV) Also, “and against all the gods of EgyptI will execute judgment: I am the LORD.” (Exodus 12:12 KJV) “Who is like to you, O LORD, among the gods?” (Exodus 15:11 KJV) “You will make no covenant with them, nor with their gods.” (Exodus 23:32 KJV) If those gods did not exist, the Jews could not have made a covenant with them. “The graven images of their gods you will burn with fire.” (Deuteronomy 7:25 KJV) The expression “images of their gods” implies that the graven images were merely copies of the real gods. At the time of Moses the Jews believed in the existence of other gods. Monotheism was established in Judaism after Jeremiah. The above verse of Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 32:39) was probably written sometime after 586 BCE.

Certain Egyptian names  in the story of Joseph were not in use during Joseph’s time, not even during Moses’ time. They came into common use at about the time of King David (10th century BCE). Moses could not have written these names.

“And these are the kings that reigned in the landof Edom, before there reigned any king over the children of Israel.” (Genesis 36:31 KJV) The person who wrote this verse indicates that he knew the kings of Israel: King Saul and King David. They began to reign about three hundred years after Moses. Even The NIV Study Bible acknowledges that this verse “is considered as an editing subsequent to the time of Moses” because it “presupposes the subsequent Israelite monarchy.”

“And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants … and pursued them to Dan.” (Genesis 14:14 KJV) Moses could not have written this verse because this city or area was not named “Dan” until after Moses’ death.

“And Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines to Gerar.” (Genesis 26:1 KJV)If Isaac existed, he lived sometime after 1800 BCE. The Philistines were not inCanaan until after the time of Moses. They were established in the 12 century BCE.

“… just asIsraeldid in the land the LORD gave to them as possession.” (Deuteronomy 2:12 NIV) This phrase refers to the conquest ofCanaanas an event that had taken place. Moses could not have written it, because he died before the conquest ofCanaan.

“To drive out nations from before you greater and mightier than you are, to bring you in {the land of Canaan}, to give you their land for an inheritance, as it is this day.” (Deuteronomy 4:38 KJV) The phrase “as it is this day” reveals the true time of writing: after God gave the Hebrews their land of inheritance,Canaan. The same applies to the following verse. “… the Lord uprooted them {the Jews} from their land in anger and in fury and in great wrath, and cast them into another land {probably referring to the Babylonian exile}, as it is this day.” (Deuteronomy 29:28 NASB) The phrase “as it is this day” indicates a time that is hundreds of years after Moses, probably after 586 BCE. (This verse is another indication that the end of Deuteronomy was written after 586 BCE.)

“So at that time we took from the two kings of the Amorites the land beyond the Jordan …” (Deuteronomy 3:8 NRSV) “These are the words that Moses spoke to all Israel beyond the Jordan–in the wilderness, on the plain opposite Suph, between Par’an and To’phel, La’ban, Haze’roth, and Di-zahab’ ” (Deuteronomy 1:1 NRSV) The phrase “beyond the Jordan” refers to the land on the other side of the Jordan river from the writer. It refers to locations on the east side of theJordan. This expression reveals that the writer was on the west side of theJordan. Moses never went to the west side.

“So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the landof Moab, according to the word of the LORD. And he {the LORD} buried him in a valley in the landof Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knows of his sepulchre {tomb} to this day. And Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died … And the children ofIsrael wept for Moses in the plains ofMoab thirty days: so the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended. … And there arose not a prophet since inIsrael like … Moses.” (Deuteronomy 34:5-8, 10 KJV) This passage describes what happened after the death of Moses. The phrase “there arose not a prophet since inIsrael like … Moses” indicates that this passage was written after prophets inferior to Moses had arisen. (This verse dates probably after 586 BCE.)The phrase “no man knows of his sepulchre {tomb} to this day” reveals the time of writing: a time long after Moses’ death.

“Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men who were upon the face of the earth.” (Numbers 12:3 KJV) The humblest man on earth would not boast about his humility. Someone else boasted for him.

In narrative portions of the Pentateuch Moses is identified in the third person, suggesting that someone other than Moses wrote about him: “These are the Aaron and Moses to whom the LORD said …” (Exodus 6:26 RSV) “These are the words which Moses spoke …” (KJV) “And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it to the priests the sons of Levi …” (Deuteronomy 31:9 KJV)

  1. “… then the LORD your God will turn your captivity, and have compassion upon you, and will return and gather you from all the nations, whither the LORD your God has scattered you.” (Deuteronomy 30:3 KJV) Some claim that this verse is a prophecy written by Moses predicting an exile. It can also be said, the words “has scattered you” indicate that this event has already taken place. It can also be said that this verse is another indication that the latter part of Deuteronomy was written after 586 BCE. (Further on we will examine several anachronistic prophecies like this one.)





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