The Moses Gambit

part of: Clips from History

by The Archives of Raynah

You were born during a time of storm, and not just because of supposedly divine Pharoah’s many cruel decrees.

The forces at work during your days are forever beyond the small concerns of humans digging holes for seeds, arguing, loving, slaying each other for large and absurdly small reasons.

The climate of Earth was changing, volcanoes erupted the world over. Evidence left behind in the Cyclades, Libya, Asia Minor, Egypt, Greece, Iceland, the Sinai, the Balkans, and Jutland make it clear there was a prolonged period of drought, flood, and earthquakes. Rivers dried up, the sea rose and inundated the land in many locations, entire populations were displaced or decimated.

These events destroyed civilizations, like the one in northern Europe centered in Jutland, in all likelihood the Atlantis Plato describes in his Kritias – bronze age farmers and warriors, traders in tin, makers of chariots, henges, and sky discs like the one found at Nebra in Deutschland.

I love to wander back in my mind to how sweet the world must have been between 5,000 and 1500 BC when vines and deciduous trees grew as far north as Scandinavia. The world’s climate has not been so agreeable for perhaps the last two million years.

But then everything changed right about the time you were born in Egypt – a son of slaves.

Myth separates us, you and I, and time, so much time, yet you were a human mind alive in extraordinary circumstances ….

The myths of your own people tell us the guy who was Pharoah at the time of your birth ordered all infant Hebrew males be put to death – which makes little real sense since males grow up to be strong, useful slaves – but when has cruelty been rational? To give fate, or whatever forces it was she trusted a chance to save you, your mother gave you up, set you adrift on the Nile in a basket – where who should find you but the childless daughter of Pharoah. She took you and raised you as her son, which made you a Prince of the land…

…sweet irony invented by a master storyteller from later days? Maybe. Yet, somewhere under all these tales is a person, just like there really was an Elvis, Isis, Christ, King Arthur, Elizabeth—whatever absurd stories are uttered about them today.

You were a guy gone from slave to prince by sheer dumb luck, in a time when rulers were considered to be Gods, the wind and the rain were demons or angels depending on the results following their passing through, almost no one could read or write and the realization that critical thinking is necessary was 3500 years away in the unimaginable future. Add to this the fact that the long centuries of plenty were ending world wide…some scholars say the myth of Phaeton commemorates the difficulties whole civilizations endured throughout those days.

Yes, there you were, a guy, once a slave about to die on the wild river, now divine. Surely you must have heard palace stories that you had been found on the river, that the river God had given you to the barren Princess in answer to her prayer for progeny. Did you ever believe a word of that – that you were some finely begotten divine thing born to take the place of Pharoah upon his passing, that destiny favored you above all others in the land, or did you wonder until the improbability of godhood hit you hard over the head, kept you awake through long Egyptian nights? Is the greatest wonder you ever worked to see through this dense wall of belief to the truth underneath – that you were a man, purely and simply a man?

Be that as it may, you did have a native intellect of some breadth and depth, a hatred for injustice, a loathing of idols, an appreciation for freedom, the command possessed by a man raised to be a living god.

If you saw through the god-stuff though, and clearly you did, because you never claimed to be one, though you easily could have done so—just lived quietly in the palace until Pharoah died, took his place, had your way in all things—did you see through the acts of god stuff too – like when the ash falling from some volcanic eruption somewhere off in the beleaguered world turned the rivers red? I have no clue. What I do have a clue about is that you used the idea that this was a divine Act to scare Pharoah into letting you and your people go.

Yes. I think you played the circumstances brilliantly, like a master strategist would, used every trick in the book, betting on the gullibility of all and sundry, because who really knew why anything happened anyway – fire, disease, floods?

Did you lay awake at night, you who had refused godhood, because you believed there was a real God somewhere controlling things, a God you and your people served, or did you lay awake deciding how to use that as a means to an end, to pry the Hebrews loose of Egypt’s tight grip…and why did you care about them so much anyway?

I’ll never know, but I do think you were one of the luckiest sob’s to ever live – so lucky the things that happened around you DID look like divine intervention … first you were slated as a helpless infant to die, but then you got found, but not by just anyone – by the Princess of Egypt herself. You were raised a prince, but somehow you developed such a stern sense of justice that you got thrown out of your step-mom’s corrupt court, later to wrangle your way back in by making the most of the disasters afflicting the land to get your slave tribe set free, and you know that Red Sea thing? Well, the same eruptions that probably produced the ten disasters you so brilliantly used to convince Pharoah to let your people go, probably sucked that sea dry long enough for you and them to make it across, before the tidal wave that usually accompanies such things swept Pharoah and his pursuers away.

Sheer, staggering, dumb luck, but you made the best of it, even the wandering about in the desert, dreaming of a land where you could set your tribe up as freemen! You used those difficulties to train your people to let go of any traces of the idol worship you so hated about Egypt – in so doing you forever separated man from god, to the degree that as Princeton philosopher Walter Kaufmann said, since your days “no Jewish thinker ever thought he was anything other than a man.”

This is why in these less credulous days you are still to be so roundly praised. Not because you saw God and did His Word, but because you saw through gods, found yourself a man in the world and did what you could to change the injustices you saw around you, to fix the problems of thought that caused them!

And if, as it is said in the Bible, you never entered the Promised Land, what Land was it that you did not enter? I cannot say. Indeed, it seems you conquered the only land that truly matters: the minds of women and men!

c. 2004 TDHawkes


Herm, Gerhard. The Celts. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 1975.