Moses and the Exodus: Moses as founder of an alternative Egyptian religion

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by Neil Godfrey

Continuing . . . . 

The following account of “the Exodus” and Moses’ place in history comes from Apion, another Greek who lived much of his time in Egypt. Again Josephus is our source, and a hostile one at that. Apion portrays Moses as an Egyptian priest who preserved a true form of Egyptian religion. The whole “Exodus/Moses” episode belongs to Egyptian (not Jewish) history in his writings.

I briefly take notice of what Apion adds upon that subject; for in his third book, which relates to the affairs of Egypt, he speaks thus:

“I have heard of the ancient men of Egypt, that Moses was of Heliopolis, and that he thought himself obliged to follow the customs of his forefathers, and offered his prayers in the open air, towards the city walls; but that he reduced them all to be directed towards sun-rising, which was agreeable to the situation of Heliopolis; that he also set up pillars instead of gnomons, under which was represented a cavity like that of a boat, and the shadow that fell from their tops fell down upon that cavity, that it might go round about the like course as the sun itself goes round in the other.”

Josephus continues with criticisms of Apion that I will not repeat here.

Jan Assmann’s comment (p. 38) is of interest:

But the Egyptian tradition which Apion attributes to Moses is a very special one. The sun cult of Heliopolis is the closest  traditional analogy with what Akhenaten taught in the form of a monolatric worship of light. It is not a counter-religion, but a kind of alternative religion, which is very different from other Egyptian cults.


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Neil Godfrey

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One comment

  • 2015-05-29 19:25:01 GMT+0000 - 19:25 | Permalink

    Akhenaten and the monolatric worship of light… wonder if this has anything to do with Christianity? In which case that religion is a lot older than most think.

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