Moses and Monotheism


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Moses And Monotheism.

Arab anti-Zionism, Shmuel Trigano argues, has little to do with land, the fate of the Palestinians, or Palestinian self-determination—and everything to do with religion. Citing the historical status of non-Muslims in the Islamic Middle East, he points in particular to two concepts: that of the ummah , a nation of all Muslim believers that transcends ethnic and political boundaries, and that of the dhimmi , protected religious minorities who are allowed to live in Muslim society with legal disabilities:.

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Popular in Mosaic. Sign up to read more You've read all your free articles for this month. Register Sign up now for unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics Already have an account? Today In Picks. Log In Don't have an account? Freud said that the guilt from the murder of Moses is inherited through the generations; this guilt then drives the Jews to religion to make them feel better.

Freud Examines Monotheism

Begun in , and rewritten in , Freud's Moses and Monotheism appeared in an abridged form in the review Imago the first two essays , and the final version was published in It also appeared in the Standard Edition edited by James Strachey Upon first examination the work seems somewhat disordered, and contains repetitions and inconsistencies. The writing appears to reflect the movement of Freud's thought , his doubts and hesitation , his concern regarding the scientific nature of the information he The writing appears to reflect the movement of Freud's thought, his doubts and hesitation, his concern regarding the scientific nature of the information he provides, and his fears concerning the way the text might be received among Viennese Catholics and by the Jewish community.

Finally, part two of the third essay is preceded by a " Summary " in which he reevaluates much of the information in the first essays. Moses and Monotheism can be approached in several different ways. First, it is a biography of Moses, the "historical novel" whose scientific nature Freud wanted to establish. Freud claims that Moses was not Jewish but Egyptian and bases this claim on the fact that the name "Moses" was Egyptian, as well as on certain considerations about the family origin of heroes, based on Otto Rank's Myth of the Birth of the Hero In the second essay Freud tries to understand the reasons that would have led Moses to assume the leadership of the minority people who were to become Jews and impose a new religion upon them.

He then comes up with the idea that what would become Mosaic religion originated in the cult of Aton practiced by the pharaoh Amenotep IV. Moses, as a devoted believer, is said to have adopted the new religion as his own. After the revolt that followed the death of the pharaoh, Moses chose exile and the creation of a people upon whom he was able to impose his religious beliefs, together with the Egyptian practice of circumcision.


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These are the people he led out of slavery. The cult of Aton and following Mosaic faith brought to religion, for the first time in history, the monotheistic notion of a unique and universal god. Because of his tyrannical and domineering character , and his desire to impose a monotheistic religion upon all Jews, Moses is said to have been assassinated during a revolt of the Jews against his authority.

Freud meets the criticism that situates the exodus one or two centuries after the reign of Akhenaton by advancing the idea that Moses did not draw his religious beliefs directly from the pharaoh but from priests who had been devotees of the cult of Aton.

He also responds to certain historical conclusions that situated the origin of the Jewish religion in the cult of a volcano god, Yahweh, defeated by a Moses who was of Midian origin, by postulating the fusion of two religions : Aton's religion of truth and justice, which was temporarily repressed by the religion of Yahweh, which was focused more on conquest. While reconstituting the history of the Jewish people, Freud rediscovers the dualist system that was so important to him: the fusion of two Moses in a single character, of two new religions into a single monotheistic religion, of two peoples into a single nation.

Freud's work is thus an explanation of the formation of monotheistic religion on the basis of parricide that of Moses , the collective repression of this murder, its passage from memory , but also its survival in the unconscious and its reappearance in religious phenomena. This theme is similar to one developed in Totem and Taboo : parricide as the origin of civilization and monotheistic religion.

According to Freud, this explanation holds for both the Jewish religion, where parricide is not recognized as such but reappears in the feeling of guilt, and Christianity , where guilt original sin and parricide are recognized and assumed. Paul of Tarsus the true founder, for Freud, of the Christian religion is supposed to have recognized the murder.


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The expiation of parricide could only be carried out by the sacrifice of an expiatory victim : the son of God himself. The euphoria of being the chosen people in the Jewish religion is replaced in Christian religion by the sentiment of compensatory liberation through the sacrifice of the son.

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Original sin and atonement through sacrifice are the pillars of the new religion founded by Paul. In Freud's approach, Moses is desacralized, reduced to his human nature as in "The Moses of Michelangelo ," [b] , and God is reduced to a strictly human origin arising from projections of the individual unconscious. Freud's Moses and Monotheism represents an application of the data of individual metapsychology to collective psychology.

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