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Anomalous position of an adopted foundling at the Pharaonic Court

Annoyances to which Moses would be subjected - Courses of life which would naturally be open to him—The official life--The literary lifeThe life of a soldier ; its attraction at the time--Grounds for concluding that I loses adopted the military life-Training which it involved-Moses in the Hittite wars-Account given by Josephus of Moses' successes against the Ethiopians—The account criticized.

His university education concluded, Moses must have returned to the Court, and have resumed his position in his mother's household. But the question must now have presented itself to his mind, which presents itself to almost all sooner or later. What was he to do with his life, how was he to employ the talents and the acquirements which were his by nature and training? The position of an adopted foundling at the Court of an Egyptian king, and that foundling a foreigner, was an anomalous, and can scarcely have been a pleasant, one. The threatened assassinations, of which Josephus speaks, are probably fictions, and the extreme aversion in which Moses was held by the priests is no doubt exaggerated; but jealousies, we may be sure, were awakened by the favour shewn to an alien interloper, and an atmosphere of suspicion and ill-will was created around him. There could be no one among the courtiers who would really truly sympathize with his feelings when he was vexed or hurt, since there was no one who occupied anything like the same position. He may have had some hangers-on and flatterers, but he can scarcely have had a friend. The courtiers generally would look down upon him on account


of his birth, envy him in respect of the high favour with which he was regarded by the Princess, and dislike him as one who in creed and race and tone of thought was quite different from themselves. The result would be a series of slights and impertinences on the part of the jeunesse dorée of the period, which would sting and annoy the recipient, without giving hin

ufficien cause for serious complaint or remonstrance, and these would produce a growing sense on Moses' part of injury and isolation.

To hang about the Court from year to year as a mere idler, one of the useless class, fruges consumere nati, must have been in any case abhorrent to a man of the temperament of Moses, and in his peculiar position must have seemed to him specially undesirable. We may assume that it was not long after quitting Heliopolis that he seriously placed before himselt the courses of life open to him, and considered carefully their several attractions. The most obvious life, to a person circumstanced as he was, would have been the official life. “Egypt swarmed with a bureaucracy-a bureaucracy which was powerful, numerous, and cleverly arranged in such a graduated series, that the most bureaucratic countries of the modern world may with reason be said to have had nothing superior to it.' Partly in the capital, partly scattered about the country, were hundreds, or rather thousands, of official personages, nomarchs, toparchs, governors of towns, judges, magistrates, collectors of taxes, superintendents of storehouses, treasurers, registrars, and the like ; all of them receiving their appointments from the Crown, and occupying a high and honourable position. Nothing would have been easier for Moses than to have asked the Princess who had adopted him, to obtain for him from the reigning Pharaoh, her father or her brother, one of these civil appointments, by means of which he would have set his foot on the first rung of the official ladder, and might have risen through the many gradations to the highest rung of all. But the official life, in Egypt as elsewhere, was probably monotonous ; it involved, during many years, complete subordination and much uninteresting drudgery ; it may have required an occasional, or a constant acknowledgment, of the idolatry everywhere established and maintained as the religion of the State. Naturally enough, Moses was not attracted by it. Could he have mounted per

• Lenormant, “ Histoire Ancienne de l'Orient," vol. b p 487 ; Birch, • Egypt from the Earliest Times," p. xix.

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saltum, like Joseph, to the highest place (Gen. xli. 39-44), he would perhaps have overcome his repugnance, and have become a distinguished Egyptian civilian; but the prospect of toiling from grade to grade did not tempt him, and he decided that the official life would not satisfy his aspirations.

The literary life may next have presented itself to his thoughts. It was, to a considerable extent, connected with the official life, to which in a great number of instances it served as a stepping. stone. Proficiency in letters attracted public attention, and the literary man—the “scribe,” as he was called—often received offers of civil employment, and commonly accepted them. But literature was also pursued by many as their only occupation, and was recognized as containing within itself many attractions and delights. “Love letters as thy mother," says an early Egyptian author ; “it is a greater possession than all employments.” And again—“Consider that there is not an employment destitute of superior ones, except the scribe's, which is the first.” The literary man was held in high honour; he was invited everywhere, even to the royal table.“ Truly no scribe,” exclaims the writer above quoted, “is without eating the things of the royal palace of the King." Such men as Pentaour, Anna, Kakabu, Hor, Amen-em-api, Bek-en-ptah, Pan-bas, not only had the entrée to good society, but lived on intimate terms with the highest personages in the land. Moses, with his great literary talents, his strong if undeveloped poetic powers, might well have aspired to join the noble company of authors, which formed one of the main glories of the times wherein he lived. But the literary life would have afforded no scope for the exercise of his practical energies, and, however respectable, would perhaps at the time have scarcely been thought worthy of a scion, albeit an adopted one, of the royal stock. Moses, at any rate, was not attracted by it. Though “ learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts vii, 22), he was not content to take up the role of a mere man of learning, or to pass his life in celebrating the deeds of others, without doing anything which should make him worthy of being celebrated himself.

But if neither the literary life nor the life of a government official was sufficiently attractive to content the aspirations of the young Hebrew, taking his first outlook upon the world wherein he had to play his part, what other possibilities were

“Records of the Past," vol. viii. pp. 148, 153, 156.

there, what other lines of occupation ? Merely professional careers, the life of a physician, or a lawyer, or an artist, were even less eligible than those which we have supposed him to have contemplated and rejected. Moses cannot be imagined to have given them so much as a thought. Though of humble birth, he held the position of a prince, and no occupation could be suitable to him, which was not recognized by public opinion as princely. Rank has its obligations. Royal Highnesses find but few walks in life open to them. They cannot accept a metropolitan practice, or become lawyers in a provincial town.

There remained, however, one life which we have not yet passed under review-a life royal, princely, which the king himself led. This was the life of a soldier. Every Egyptian monarch of the ancient dynasties led out his army in person, and fought at its head. Egypt, since the times of Apepi and Joseph, had been engaged in a perpetual series of hostilities, either with neighbouring, or with distant, nations. The Thothmeses and Amenhoteps of the eighteenth dynasty had not been content, like former kings of Egypt, to defend their frontiers, repulse invaders, and enlarge the limits of the empire by ittaching to it here and there a small province. While the Hebrews were quietly feeding their flocks and herds in Goshen, and growing from a family into a tribe, and from a tribe into a nation, they had commenced a career of aggression, had marched their bands of disciplined troops into Asia, had overrun and conquered all Syria and Western Mesopotamia, had made raids into Assyria, passed the Tigris, plundered Nineveh, and crossed swords with the great Assyrian monarchs, who then held their Court at Kileh-Sherghat, or Asshur. Thothmes I. had begun these distant conquests. He had marched an army through Palestine and Syria, crossed the Euphrates into Mesopotamia,engaged the natives in a long series of battles and defeated them more than once with great slaughter. Thothmes III., “the Alexander of Egyptian history," had not only invaded Syria and Western Mesopotamia, but conquered them, had established a strong military post at Arban on the river Khabour, and from this post had carried his arms across the Tigris into Assyria Proper, and forced the Assyrian monarch to pay him a tribute. He had warred in Phoenicia, in Cilicia, and in Commagene ; he had

• Brugsch, “ History of Egypt," vol 1. p. 316

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collected a fleet and reduced Cyprus ; he had marched with his troops from Nubia to the Taurusrange, and from Cyreneto beyond Nineveh ; he had borne off from the subject countries 11,000 captives, 1,670 chariots, 3,639 horses, 4,491 of the larger cattle, above 35,000 goats, silver to the amount of 3,940 pounds, and gold to the amount of 9,054 pounds, besides enormous quantities of corn and wine, together with incense, balsam, honey, ivory, ebony, and other rare woods, lapis-lazuli and other precious stones, furniture, statues, vases, dishes, basins, tent-poles, bows, habergeons, fruit-trees, live birds and monkeys. Amen-hotep II., son of Thothmes III., had, after the death of his father, recovered the various countries subdued by him, which had revolted on his decease. Other kings, notably Ramesses I., the founder of the nineteenth dynasty, and Seti I., his son and successor, had contended in Asia with a new enemy, the Khita or Hittites, and had won fame and glory by their victories. Moses had, it is probable, been growing up while the later of these successes were being obtained, and had witnessed the enthusiasm with which Seti was welcomed back to Egypt by thousands upon thousands of his subjects; when he returned in triumph from some of his Asiatic expeditions. He may have heard the acclamations which greeted the victorious monarch as he re-entered his capital, and listened to the first singing of that song of triumph, which was afterwards engraved on the walls of the great temple of Karnak.' “Pharaoh is a jackal, which rushes leaping through the Hittite land ;

He is a grim lion, frequenting the hidden paths of all regions ; He is a powerful bull with a pair of sharpened horns. Pharaoh has stricken the Asiatics down to the ground; He has overthrown the Khita ; he has slain their princes." The military glories of Egypt, thus revived by the monarch of the time, and echoed from mouth to mouth among men of all ranks and stations, occupying more or less the thoughts of all, and forming the general subject of conversation, would naturally stir the spirit of one so circumstanced as Moses, and would point out to him a path and an occupation, which none could regard as unworthy of him, which would give employment to all his energies, and might lead to the highest distinction. Pro motion in the Egyptian army depended mainly, if not wholly upon merit. Moses would have that self-reliance which is

· Brugsch, “ History of Egypt," vol. ii. p. 16.

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