السبت، 23 أغسطس، 2014

The Problematic name “Mosheh” in Narrations of The Book of Exodus BY Ahmed Spea


The Problematic name “Mosheh” in Narrations of The Book of Exodus



Translated by Abdullah Abdurrahman

The etymology and original meaning of the name Moses have been long disputed. The following article by Brother Ahmed Spea sheds light on the matter, representing Islam’s view on the subject. I endeavored to render the article from Arabic into English for being crucial, concise and most of all for lacking similar articles dealing with the matter in hands in English language from an Islamic point of view.

Praise be to Allah, peace and blessings be upon the messenger of Allah, to proceed:

Chapter two of Exodus narrates the story of the birth of Moses (peace be upon him) by a man and a woman from the Levi tribe. Moses was put carefully in a basket among the reeds by the riverbank. Then Pharaoh’s daughter came down to the river with her maidens and when she saw the basket, she sent a maid to get it. When she opened it, she saw a crying baby boy, and she pitied him, and asked for a Hebrew woman to nurse the infant until he grows up then be brought to her again.
The child grew and was brought to Pharaoh’s daughter. And because she took him out of the water, she named him Moses, which means, Drawn forth.


The nameמֹשֶׁ֔ה is stated in Exodus 2:10 which says:
וַיִגְדַּ֣ל הַיֶּ֗לֶד וַתְּבִאֵ֨הוּ֙ לְבַת־פַּרְעֹ֔ה וַֽיְהִי־לָ֖הּ לְבֵ֑ן וַתִּקְרָ֤א שְׁמוֹ֙ מֹשֶׁ֔ה וַתֹּ֕אמֶר כִּ֥י מִן־הַמַּ֖יִם מְשִׁיתִֽהוּ
Translated to:
“And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son; and she named him Moses “(Mosheh) - מֹשֶׁה”, for she said, “Because I drew him out of the water.” –מְשִׁיתִֽהו-”.
Revised Standard Version (RSV)


Therefore; and because of this incident, Moses got his name מֹשֶׁה.
According to the aforementioned story, we are obliged to stop herein and consider two key points:
1- How could Pharaoh’s daughter the Egyptian give a Hebrew name to the infant?
2- Is the name “Mosheh” appropriate for the context of its story?

Firstly, none would ever imagine that Pharaoh’s daughter would name the infant; whom she will adopt later on and bring to the palace, a Hebrew name. It would be reasonable enough that she would give him an Egyptian name rather than a Hebrew one.
To escape this dilemma, it was suggested that the infant was named “Moses” by his mother, and not by Pharaoh’s daughter. Hence, it is rational that his name is in Hebrew. But, according to the verses, this would be a groundless conclusion for the verses are plainly stating that it was Pharaoh’s daughter who had named the infant after taking him out of the water.
Today, according to Victor P. Hamilton, there is a consensus that the name of the infant should be of Egyptian root, and that the majority of scholars hold the view that the name could be derived from the word “ms” which means “A Child” in Ancient Egyptian.
“The consensus today is that “Moses” goes back to an Egyptian root ms “child,” mss “to be born”.” [1]

It was pointed out in the footnotes of the translation of NET Bible (The New English Translation) what follows:
“The naming provides the climax and summary of the story. The name of “Moses” (מֹשֶׁה, mosheh) is explained by “I have drawn him (מְשִׁיתִהוּ, méshitihu) from the water.” It appears that the name is etymologically connected to the verb in the saying, which is from מָשָׁה (mashah, “to draw out”). But commentators have found it a little difficult that the explanation of the name by the daughter of Pharaoh is in Hebrew when the whole background is Egyptian (U. Cassuto, Exodus, 20).[2]


Secondly, we may ask “Is the name ‘Moshe’ linguistically correct and thus appropriate for use in the context of the story?”. As we mentioned earlier, it was stated that Pharaoh’s daughter was the one who gave the name “Mosheh” to the infant after taking him out of the water. We may as well note the strong resemblance between the word “Mosheh” and the verb “méshitihu” which means “I draw out” which is derived from the root “Masha” “מָשָׁה” meaning “To draw out”. 
Thus, it should be clear to us by now, that according to the story the name “Mosheh” is to mean “He who is drawn out” in the Past Participle, which would make sense to those who have any basic knowledge of Hebrew Language, especially when we read what corroborates this in the Arabic Applicable Interpretation Commentary which erroneously alleges:


" And when the child grew up, she brought him back to Pharaoh’s daughter who adopted him and named him “Moses” which means “He who is drawn out”. "[3] 
Such claim was proved to be wrong because the word “Mosheh - מֹשֶׁה” means “He who draws out” in the Present Participle NOT in the Past Participle as the context of the story entails, for the Past Participle would then be “מָשׁוּי” which means “He who is drawn out” which is linguistically correct and accordingly quite convenient to the context.
Victor P. Hamilton says: “In Hebrew the proper name “Moses” is a Qal active participle (masculine/singular) of the verb māšâ “to draw (out),” and hence is to be translated as “drawer out” or “he who draws out.” ...If such were the case, we would expect the name given to the infant by the daughter of Pharaoh to be, not mošeh “he who draws out,” but māšūy “He who is drawn out,” i.e., a participle that is passive in form.” [4]

We also read in A Handbook on Exodus : “She named him Moses, probably an Egyptian name based on the Egyptian mose, meaning “son of.” But as the 2:10 TEV footnote points out, Moses sounds like the Hebrew for “pull out.” The Hebrew form of the name is Mosheh, a participle meaning “one who pulls out” rather than “one who is pulled out,” which would be mashuy.” [5]
J. K. Hoffmeier wrote in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia : “It might be expected that Moses’ name would appear in the passive form since he was “drawn out” of the water. In fact it is written in the active voice (mōšeh).” [6]

We read in the footnotes of the translation of NET Bible (The New English Translation) what follows: “the Hebrew spelling of the name is the form of the active participle (“the one who draws out”); to be a precise description it should have been spelled מָשׁוּי (mashuy), the passive participle (“the one drawn out”).” [7]
At the end of this article, and based on all the above quotations, a fact that stands forth very clearly is that the narration of Exodus 2:10 has two major flaws which are:


1- Pharaoh’s daughter would never give a Hebrew name to the infant contrary to what the author narrated.
2- Considering the context of the story, the word “Mosheh” would be wrong and should have been “Mashuy” which is linguistically correct.

This defect and much more is a result of long periods of time which spanned over long eras of interpolation, distortion and corruption which only Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He) is aware of.

Praise is due to Allah whom only we ask to complete His favors upon us.
________________________________________


[1] Victor P. Hamilton, "1254 מֹשֶׁה", Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr. and Bruce K. Waltke, electronic ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999). 530.
[2] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006). Ex 2:10.
[3] Arabic Applicable Interpretation Commentary, p.132
[4] Victor P. Hamilton, "1254 מֹשֶׁה", Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr. and Bruce K. Waltke, electronic ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999). 529-30.
[5] Noel D. Osborn and Howard A. Hatton, A Handbook on Exodus, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1999). 36.
[6] The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised, ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979–1988). 417.
[7] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006). Ex 2:10.
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