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CHAPTER III.

MOSES'S CHILDHOOD.

Name given to the saved child–His early life at the Court — Impressions

made on him by his surroundings-His intercourse with his own family -Story told of his trampling on the Pharaoh's crown-His beauty, spirit, and intelligence.

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THE name which Moses received has been variously explained. An Egyptian root, mes or meses, is common as an element in names, where it has the force of “sca" or "child," as in Aahmes, “child of the moon,” Ramesses, “child of the sun," Amonmes or Amonmeses, “child of Ammon," and the like. Strictly speaking, the word probably means “ born from,” or “sprung from,” and is equivalent of the Latin words natus, ortus, satus, &c. Etymologically it perhaps signified “drawn out,” and referred to the act of deliverance by a midwife. It has been thought that this word“ meses” was the real name which the Egyptian princess gave to her foundling, and that in giving it she only meant to recognise him as her “child.” Josephus, however, supplies an entirely different account. According to him, the meaning of the word “Moses” is “saved from the water,” the first syllable mo, moaning, "water" in Egyptian, and the remainder of the worá, ses, or uses, meaning “saved.”: The derivation has in its favour the fact, that mo-ushe would in Coptic have the meaning assigned, and the further fact that one of the words for water in the ancient Egyptian was certainly mo. From these two accounts that suggested in Exod. ii. 10 wholly differs, since it makes the name Hebrew, and derives it from the Hebrew root

ļ“Ant. Jud.” ii. 9, § 6

måshåh, “to extract, draw forth." Philo Judæus appears to have taken much the same view as Josephus; but he is less exact, since he gives the word one root only, instead of two, and misrepresents that one, declaring that the Egyptian word for water was môs, which it certainly was not. Altogether, it is perhaps most probable that Josephus gave the true account, and that “Moses”—more correctly Moyses, as in the Septuagint Version, or Moysus, as in Artapanus meant "taken from the water," and thus the name which he bore commemorated the circumstances under which the great prophet was saved by the princess.

Transferred from the humble abode of his father to the palace of the princess, Moses was brought up in the Egyptian fashion. As a child, he probably went about, like other Egyptian boys, without clothes, and with his hair shaved off, except a single lock, which depended on one side of the head. He would be waited on by numerous attendants, would be carefully and delicately fed, kept scrupulously clean, and taught the refined manners of the highest circles. His main life would be a Court life. He would live chiefly in the apartments of his mother, which would probably be a portion of the royal residence, and would be furnished with every luxury. At first his attendants would be his mother's handmaids ; but ere long the assistance of male instructors would be called in, and his education, in the common sense of the word, would commence. But there is an earlier education than that derived from instructors. The bent and bias of a character is often formed, is always strongly affected, by the individual's earliest surroundings, which unconsciously form his mind and fashion his temper. The sights and sounds presented to us in infancy and early childhood sink into our souls, and constitute a substratum upon which the whole personality of the man is afterwards built. What then were those that the impressible mind of the young Moses first took in from the circumstances of his environment, while he dwelt with his mother in her portion of the royal palace ?

There is reason to believe that the Court, at the time, was held during the greater part of the year at Memphis. The situation and appearance of Memphis have been already dwelt upon. Moses would see from the terraces of the royal residence, whither he would be taken to enjoy the cool northern breeze in the summer evenings, the great city of Phthah spread

s Ap. Euseb. "Præp. Ev." ix. 37.

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before him in all its wealth of architectural ornament, in all its populousness, in all its busy movement of trade and commerce, of pleasure and religion. Noisy crowds would be thronging its streets and squares, heavily-laden vessels would be ascending and descending its mighty river, bright painted sails would be glassing themselves in the calmer reaches of the stream, boats would be darting about, here and there processions with sacred arks listed up on high would be wending their way through the temple precincts or through the streets of the town, strains of music would be floating in the air, mixed with shouts and cries of all kinds from chariot-drivers, and vendors of wares, and boatmen. Against the orange glow still lighting up the western sky would be seen, silhouetted in sharpest outline, the purple forms of the “Three Great Pyramids,” grand monuments, the tombs of mighty kings, sentinels on the eilge of that broad desert tract, where life ceased and the kingdom of the dead began. The vastness of the scene around would necessarily impress any intelligent boy with a sense of awe, of wonder, and of mystery ; the life and movement of the city would arouse curiosity and the desire to be up and doing ; the contrast between the city's stir and the still silence of the western ridge would evoke uneasy thoughts, and perhaps bring the riddle of existence before the just awakening mind.

As he grew older, the boy's acquaintance with Memphis, and the life within its walls, would increase. He would be taken into the streets, probably in a wheeled vehicle, and would see near at hand the moving crowd, which he had hitherto contemplated from a distance. He would, perhaps, occasionally be allowed a sail in a pleasure-boat upon the river. He would be taken to the great Temple of Phthah, and shown the mysterious figures upon the walls, and the strange hieroglyphic writing, covering almost every space from which the figures were absent ; and the broad courts, and the solemn corridors, and the calm Osirid images, and perhaps an image of Phthah, grotesque and hideous. Processions of priests, clad in white garments of linen or cotton, and wearing sandals made of the papyrus plant, chanting litanies to Phthah or Ra, would meet him in the courts, and compel him and his attendants to stand aside for them to pass. Or he would see the priests offering sacrifices and prayers, or pouring libations, to the images; or burning incense before them, in their honour. Now and then he might meet the sacred bull,

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Apis, as he was called, being led in a festive procession through the main streets of the town, that the inhabitants might see him, and come forth from their dwellings, and make obeisance to the incarnation of Phthah. The Egyptian religion delighted in openly manifesting itself, in setting itself everywhere and at all times before the eyes of the people, in challenging and compelling their attention. All the grandest edifices were temples ; next to the king, the persons most considered were the priests ; religious festivals, involving great gatherings and long processions, were frequent; men, women, and even children' attended them ; Moses must have been early familiar with the external aspect, at any rate, of the Egyptian worship, and must have frequently witnessed the revolting rites of the prevalent idolatry.

But there was another phase of the early life of Moses at Memphis of a softer character. It is impossible to suppose that

а the princess, who had employed his mother to suckle him, at once on his adoption broke off the connection between her adopted child and his real family. The princess did not, as Philo imagines, pretend that he was actually her son. His Hebrew origin was known, both to himself (Exod. ii. 11) and to the Egyptians. Must we not conclude that the connection between Moses and his family was continued after he became an inmate of the royal residence, and that, from time to time, he was taken to see his relatives, or that they were allowed to come and see him at the palace? Had Jochebed been merely Moses's foster-mother, she would have been permitted a certain familiarity, according to the ideas of the East. As his real mother, her claim was greater, and cannot have been disallowed. We must regard Moses, therefore, as partly under the influence of the princess and the Court, partly under that of his father and mother, his brother and sister, during the whole period of his early residence in Egypt. His intercourse with his family was of the highest importance, as respected his religious belief and his sympathy with his countrymen. But for it, he would naturally have been brought up a believer in the Egyptian polytheism and an idolater ; he would probably have cared little for his “ brethren,” even if he were not ashamed of acknowledging them. As it was, the principles of the patriarchal religion were impressed upon him while he was still a child, and • Herod. ii. 60.

• " Vit. Mosis." i. p. 83. 3 Joseph. Ant. Jud.” ii. 9, § 7.

he grew up a firm adherent of monotheism, a believer in the pro. mises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and a contemner of idols and idolatry. He also kept touch with his countrymen, felt sorrow for their sufferings, and hoped in time to ameliorate their lot. Instead of being wholly, he was only half, Egyptianized. He had that substratum of Hebrew feeling and Hebrew training which fitted him to be a leader of his nation, whose confidence would never have gone out to one wholly reared and taught by their oppressors.

According to Josephus, while Moses was still a young child, he escaped another peril as great as that which had menaced him in his infancy. The princess, Thermuthis, as he calls her, had taken her adopted son with her to her father's apartments, wishing to exhibit before him the boy's beauty and cleverness, and with some hope of inducing him to designate the child as his successor. She put her treasure into her father's arms, with a little speech, in which she called attention to his more than human loveliness, and his high and generous spirit, at the same time revealing the ambitious hopes which she ventured to cherish on his behalf. The monarch, wishing to gratify her by a show of willingness to entertain her request, took his crown off his own head, and put it on the head of the child ; whereupon the child got down from his lap, took off the crown to examine it, and then placing it on the ground, put his feet upon it and tried to stand up. A sacred scribe, who, a little before the birth of Moses, had prophesied that a Hebrew child was about to be born who would lay low the power of Egypt, happened to be standing by, and, seeing what the child had done, he cried with a loud voice, and said : "This, O King, is the child, whom the gods told us to kill for our own security. See the witness which he bears to the prophecy—he has put thy sovereignty beneath him, and is trampling thy crown under his feet. Slay him, then ; and cause the Egyptians to cease from their fears, and the Hebrews from their hopes.” Thermuthis, on hearing the speech, sprang to the child, and snatching him up bore him away. The king declined to follow the scribe's advice; and thus Moses escaped this second danger.'

There is an allusion in this narrative, and elsewhere important testimony is borne, to the extreme beauty of Moses, not only as an infant, but as a boy and youth. Philo tells us that his

I“ Ant. Tud." ij. 9. $. 7.

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