No mention of Moses in the Hagadah
The almost total absence of reference to Moses in the Haggadah may be similarly explained, given it attained its final editorial form in the early Geonic period (eighth century CE). The editors would have been zealous about distancing their unsophisticated readers from the dominant Christian and Islamic theologies, both of which viewed their respective faiths as having been mediated through a heaven-sent malach, Jesus or Mohammed.
The Haggadah employed, therefore, two means of emphasising the absolute purity of Judaism’s monotheism: the first was to overemphasise the fact that God did not have recourse to any intermediary; the second was to suppress the name of Moses — described in the Torah as “the man of God” — and any reference to his role as an intermediary in the Exodus.
In later books of the Hebrew Bible, Aaron and his kin are not mentioned very often except in literature dating to the Babylonian captivity and later. The books of Judges, Samuel and Kings mention priests and Levites, but do not mention the Aaronides in particular. The Book of Ezekiel, which devotes much attention to priestly matters, calls the priestly upper class the Zadokites after one of King David's priests. It does reflect a two-tier priesthood with the Levites in subordinate position. A two-tier hierarchy of Aaronides and Levites appears in Ezra, Nehemiah and Chronicles. As a result, many historians think that Aaronide families did not control the priesthood in pre-exilic Israel. What is clear is that high priests claiming Aaronide descent dominated the Second Temple period. Most scholars think the Torah reached its final form early in this period, which may account for Aaron's prominence in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers.
Sigmund Freud - Moses and Monotheism - Moses Murdered
I presume that the bare plot (though not the essential drama) of Freud's Moses
is, by now, notorious. Monotheism is not of Jewish origin but an Egyptian
discovery. The pharaoh Amenhotep IV established it as his state religion in
the form of an exclusive worship of the sun-power, or Aton, thereafter calling
himself Ikhnaton. The Aton religion, according to Freud, was characterized
by the exclusive belief in one God, the rejection of anthropomorphism, magic,
and sorcery, and the absolute denial of an afterlife. Upon Ikhnaton's death,
however, his great heresy was rapidly undone, and the gyptians reverted to
their old gods. Moses was not a Hebrew but an Egyptian priest or noble, and
a fervent monotheist. In order to save the Aton religion from extinction he
placed himself at the head of an oppressed Semitic tribe then living in Egypt,
brought them forth from bondage, and created a new nation. He gave them
an even more spiritualized, imageless form of monotheistic religion and, in
order to set them apart, introduced the Egyptian custom of circumcision. But
the crude mass of former slaves could not bear the severe demands of the new
faith. In a mob revolt Moses was killed and the memory of the murder re-
pressed. The lsraelites went on to forge an alliance of compromise with
kindred Semitic tribes in Midian whose fierce volcanic deity, named Yahweh,
now became their national god. As a result, the god of Moses was fused with
Yahweh and the deeds of Moses ascribed to a Midianite priest also called
Moses. However, over a period of centuries the submerged tradition of the
true faith and its founder gathered sufficient force to reassert itself and emerge
victorious. Yahweh was henceforth endowed with the universal and spiritual
qualities of Moses' god, though the memory of Moses' murder remained re-
pressed among the Jews, reemerging only in a very disguised form with the
rise of Christianity.
Freud's Moses: Judaism Terminable and Interminable (The Franz Rosenzweig Lecture Series) Paperback – July 28, 1993 by Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi (Author)
There is no doubt that it was a mighty prototype of a father, which, in the person of Moses, stooped to the poor Jewish bondsmen to assure them that they were his dear children. And no less overwhelming must have been the effect upon them of the idea of an only, eternal, almighty God, to whom they were not too mean for him to make a covenant with them and who promised to care for them if they remained loyal to his worship. It was probably not easy for them to distinguish the image of the man Moses from that of his God, and their feeling was right in this, for Moses may have introduced traits of his own personality into the character of his God—such as his wrathful temper and his relentlessness.
In London, where Freud arrived in June 1938, he encountered another sort of resistance to finishing and publishing the Moses book. The first person who came to see him at his house on Elsworthy Road was his neighbor, a Jewish scholar named Abraham Yahuda. Yahuda had gotten wind of the contents of the volume and had come to beseech Freud not to publish. Didn’t the Jews have enough trouble in the world without one of their number saying that Moses was not Jewish and that — in contrast to the peaceful death depicted in the Bible — Moses had been murdered by the Jews themselves, who resented the harsh laws he had tried to impose on them? Did Freud actually intend to claim that over time guilt for the murder had enhanced Moses’ status and his legacy of monotheism, creating in the Jews what Freud liked to call a “reaction formation”? Yahuda was far from being the last of such petitioners. During his early days in London, Freud received no end of entreaties to let the project go. What did Freud do? He published of course — and not just in German but, as quickly and conspicuously as possible, in English.
About two-thirds of the way into the volume, he makes a point that is simple and rather profound — the sort of point that Freud at his best excels in making. Judaism’s distinction as a faith, he says, comes from its commitment to belief in an invisible God, and from this commitment, many consequential things follow. Freud argues that taking God into the mind enriches the individual immeasurably. The ability to believe in an internal, invisible God vastly improves people’s capacity for abstraction. “The prohibition against making an image of God — the compulsion to worship a God whom one cannot see,” he says, meant that in Judaism “a sensory perception was given second place to what may be called an abstract idea — a triumph of intellectuality over sensuality.” If people can worship what is not there, they can also reflect on what is not there, or on what is presented to them in symbolic and not immediate terms. So the mental labor of monotheism prepared the Jews — as it would eventually prepare others in the West — to achieve distinction in law, in mathematics, in science and in literary art. It gave them an advantage in all activities that involved making an abstract model of experience, in words or numbers or lines, and working with the abstraction to achieve control over nature or to bring humane order to life. Freud calls this internalizing process an “advance in intellectuality,” and he credits it directly to religion.
Freud speculates that one of the strongest human desires is to encounter God — or the gods — directly. We want to see our deities and to know them. Part of the appeal of Greek religion lay in the fact that it offered adherents direct, and often gorgeous, renderings of the immortals — and also, perhaps, the possibility of meeting them on earth. With its panoply of saints, Christianity restored visual intensity to religion; it took a step back from Judaism in the direction of the pagan faiths. And that, Freud says, is one of the reasons it prospered. Judaism, on the other hand, never let go of the great renunciation. The renunciation, according to Freud, gave the Jews remarkable strength of intellect, which he admired, but it also made them rather proud, for they felt that they, among all peoples, were the ones who could sustain such belief. Freud’s argument suggests that belief in an unseen God may prepare the ground not only for science and literature and law but also for intense introspection. Someone who can contemplate an invisible God, Freud implies, is in a strong position to take seriously the invisible, but perhaps determining, dynamics of inner life. He is in a better position to know himself. To live well, the modern individual must learn to understand himself in all his singularity. He must be able to pause and consider his own character, his desires, his inhibitions and values, his inner contradictions. And Judaism, with its commitment to one unseen God, opens the way for doing so.
Though Freud hoped that mankind would pass beyond religion, he surely took inspiration from the story of Moses, a figure with whom he had been fascinated for many years. (He published his first essay on the prophet in 1914.) Freud wanted to lead people, and he wanted to make conceptual innovations that had staying power and strength: for this there could be no higher exemplar than the prophet.
Freud’s late-life turn shows us that there is too much of enduring value in religion — even for nonbelievers — ever to think of abandoning it cold.
Defender of the Faith? By MARK EDMUNDSON published in NY Times Magazine Sept.9th 2007