Thursday, January 31, 2013

Why Moses?

Polytheism vs. monotheism. I concede that's not an obvious topic of interest for a musical librettist. Moses made me think about it, I mean the work on the Moses musical which will have its opening soon. As everybody knows, the bible tells us that Moses' Hebrew mother hid him when the Pharao ordered all newborn Hebrew boys to be killed; the child was adopted as a foundling by a woman of the the Egyptian royal family. He grew up as an Egyptian prince. After killing an Egyptian slave-master, he fled to Midian where he married Ziporah. Then he encountered God in the form of a burning bush who ordered him to go back to Egypt and request the release of the Israelites. What puzzled me when I tried to retell that story was the fact that the Egyptians believed in many gods. How could a young Egyptian prince, albeit an adopted child, become a devout believer in the one and only Hebrew God? How could the Israelites trust a disgraced Egyptian prince who was wanted for murder? Friedrich Schiller wrote an interesting essay about those questions. His theory: Moses was actually a heretic Egyptian priest turned monotheist who used the Hebrews to fight the orthodoxy. I prefer another explanation: The woman who adopted him was the daughter of Tutanchamun who tried to establish monotheism in Egypt but was murdered by the orthodox priests. His daughter survived and taught her adopted son, Moses, that there is only one God. I have no proof whatsoever, but that theory works for my story, and that's all I need.

1 comment:

  1. cs: i learned the process to monotheism as an unique phenomenon in israel, not elsewhere. But why not. Religion is a matter of power. More clearly: the power of men, more specifically: the power of those people representing and serving the gods. Consequently one has got more power when this power is not shared by others.