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A Karaite Reading of Exodus

Updated on January 21, 2013

Something a little different this time. Over the past twenty or so years I've travelled extensively, meeting and talking with distant members of the family that had become lost to my immediate family. Some of them thought they were the last of the family members, having lost contact with the other familial lines a hundred years or so ago. But what was most interesting was that even with this separation we shared many of the family stories and tales. Some are anecdotal, others historical, and others even border on the mythical. But they're entertaining, informative, and they do provide insights into Karaism that I believe most of my fellow Karaites aren't even aware of. (See for more stories) These are stories that have been layered extensively until they no longer resemble the original story. They are essential pieces of history that have been concealed. I guess it's come to the time that I no longer think they should be kept under wraps. So I might as well start with the first one from the time of our beginnings. No greater man walked this earth than Moses. His influence 3000 years later can be seen amongst those practicing Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. He changed the world but do we really know who he was? Forget the rabbinic version and I'll let you in on the secrets of the Kahana family. Anan ben David would reaffirm that everything we need to know is in the Torah. It's up to us to know how to read it and find the knowledge.

The Name of Moses

The fable about Moses's name being Moshe, in Hebrew to draw out, as in to 'draw out of the water' a reminder of the baby in the basket inference of the Torah was a Rabbinic creation. In their commentaries to the Torah, they admit it freely that they knew that the word 'mehshitihu' only had the barest resemblence to the name Moshe and that an Egyptian princess would not use the Hebrew language but they refused to admit what the name really meant. It was told through the generataions in my family that his actual name was always known to us but the rabbis attempted to conceal it because they felt it reflected badly on the founder of our people, our lawgiver, and also upon the man whom the rabbis tell us was his brother, Aaron. In fact, the stories in my family say that much of the original details were purposely lost in order to provide a wholly Semitic overview of the Exodus. The accidental dropping of a word here or there from the text in order to serve a 'Holier' purpose.

Perhaps I should start at the beginning of this tale and make it clear that this story is an extension from the teaching of Anan ben David that in order to be Karaite you must make your own relationship with the Torah. And in that respect I will anticipate a tremendous amount of abuse from the Rabbanites as they will accuse me of slandering the name of our great religious founder Moses ben Amram. So be it. They will also have to explain the changes that they made to Torah in order to hide some of the details of this story if that be the case. Their sins are by far the greater. They will understand when I say that it has to do with the elevated or lowered letter 'nun' in the Torah that they added and I will also reveal why they thought it was perfectly alright to add this letter whenever and wherever they wished. This story has a special place for me because when I was a youngster in Hebrew school, my discussions of this particular point of objection led to my caning by the Rabbis. Every classroom had a wooden pointer but I don't recall ever once seeing it used to point to something on the board. But it did crash down on quite a few heads, shoulders and especially knuckles of those of us that dared to counter the rabbi's arguments. In their efforts to knock the Karaite out of me, or as they would say the 'Dybbyk', accusing me of being possessed, they only reinforced that the stories handed down to me were true and that they were aware of them and intended to deceive us all in the process. Especially those Christians that had the Bible translated from the Hebrew with all these additional letter 'nuns' in place. They would never know that the sacred text had been doctored and would pass on incorrect translations. The letter 'nun' was a pictographic representation of Moses. When spelt out the letters look like a man bent in prayer and a righteous one who is upright. The perfect man of which it is written and none have come after Moses that can even be compared to him. The Rabbinic sages say that the letter also represents faithfulness and the reward for faithfulness. Again a reference to Moses. Nun is also said to be a pictogram of a snake which when used as a final letter becomes a straight stick, again a reference to Moses with his staff that was both snake and rod and which God gave him the power to change it at will in Exodus 4:3-4. To give it special significance the Rabbinic scribes will place a special crown on the letter nun (known as the tagin) when written in the Torah to say that this is the king of all letters. Nun also represents the soul and is used to designate the Messiah, the one who will come next that is most like Moses. And numerically it represents the number 50, and even the rabbis say this is to remind us of the 50 references of the Exodus in the Torah and also the 50 days of Omer or the counting of days between the Passover and Shavuot, when Moses received the Torah. So as you can plainly see, the letter represented Moses and by placing it as an additional letter in the Torah, the Rabbis said, "we have done no wrong, we are only making a point that this is what Moses would have done, or Moses would have said." Sort of similar to initialling a contract. And when caught, as I confronted the Rabbis, they confessed that they made certain to elevate or lower the letter so it could be clearly seen that this was not part of the word but a reference to Moses. But then they would read it and translate it as if it was part of the word and that was never picked up by the rabbanite Jews they taught as students. They had a new name for me. I was no longer the student possessed by a dybbyk, I was 'Aher', the 'other', and they knew they were dealing with a Karaite that could be the bane of the existence.

So why is this letter nun so significant? Because of what the rabbis were never wishing to reveal. That the Nun was the actual name of Moses, or in its entirity he was Nunmoses. Similar to other Egyptian names you would have seen, such as Ahmoses or Thutmoses, but in this particular case Moses was named after the celestial river god, the god that spanned the heavens and fathered the other gods. The father of Ra and the one that Ra replaced in the pantheon of Egyptian gods. He was the primordial river and source of the Nile, hence it was he that would have spat out a baby in a basket into the river to be found by the princess. So when you read the words of the princess in Exodus 2:10 what she was saying was, "I called his name Nunmoses beacause I drew him from the waters of the Nile." ie. he was born of the celestial river God Nun.

The Power of a Name

For obvious reasons, the reference to his being the "Son of Nun" as an Egyptian prince had to be removed from a religion that was dedicated to monotheism. The bible still preserved the reference when Joshua became Moses's legal heir, and new leader of the Hebrew masses. He in turn became the son of Nun but this time it was in reference to Moses and not to a pagan god any longer. Since Nun was not an Ephramite name, nor a common name of any other Semites in the Exodus as seen by its absence of ever being used again for anyone else named in the Torah, it was clearly an Egyptian name and one intended for a very specific reference. Its failure to ever be used again was deliberate.

But then again, what is an Ephramite name exactly? Why are we given names sometimes and not other times in the Torah? As my family ancestors have taught, there are no oversights in the bible. Every word is chosen for a purpose and the bible is complete. There aren't riddles or hidden meanings or even absences of information. It is why it was said that the Torah is the complete word of God and there are no other words necessary. That is the fundamental difference between Karaites and the Rabbanites. The latter chose to say the Torah was incomplete and there were all these additional oral laws that Moses never bothered to write down. And only through their wisdom, foresight and guidance could these laws be preserved in the Talmud. Well, if that was the case then why did Moses say that the Torah was the complete work of God and that it requires nothing further to be added? Either the Rabbis are right and Moses was wrong, but then if that was the case the Rabbis would be defeating their own purpose because if they declare Moses as having been wrong, then who's to say he was right about the Torah in the first place. So in fact they have condemned themselves by condeming the Torah. Bottom line is that the Rabbis were wrong and their insistence on the Talmud is also wrong and they have perpetrated the enactment of their own laws and their own agenda on the people. But back to my original story.

Since the Torah is complete and everthing we have to know is already written there, then we can read Exodus 2:1 and recognize that it was written for a specific purpose. It tells us that a man from the House of Levi took a woman of the House of Levi and they had a son. There is no mention of any other son prior so we must assume this was the first son they bore and therefore the first one that was at risk because of Pharaoh's order to kill the male offspring. For those that are now questiong where was Aaron, there was no Aaron in this house. The father is not named, the mother is not named and the sister is not named. An oversight? No, this was intentional. What was more critical was that these two people were both of the House of Levi. Notice that the word House was chosen and not tribe. Remember that in ancient Egypt, Pharaoh was lord of the Great House as the word Pharaoh translates. This House of Levi was a lesser house but still an aristocratic house. Which brings us back to the name Ephraim, first presented in Genesis 51:52. Shame on the Rabbis who have given us a false translation. "Fruitful in the land of my affliction?" The word was not fruitful which is 'poireh' nor is it fruitful in the conotation of being impreganted which is 'hephrayah' which is actually closer to the Hebrew word used. The word used is completely Egyptian and is 'ephrati' which means a royal aristocrat. As an ancient word it was even adopted into the Hebrew, but the Rabbis chose to ignore this translation. The only question is why they did so? The epherates in ancient Egypt were the districts the land was divided into. Over each district there would be an Epher. In the sense he was a pharaoh but not of the Great House; more like a governor. So what Joseph was realing saying was that he named his son Ephraim, A plural of Epher, because God had made him a governor in the land of his affliction which was a true and accurate statement. As master of the horse and vizier, Joseph would have been governor over all of the districts. His children would have inherited as Ephers and governed many of the districts themselves. Which brings us back to Joshua the son of Nun the Ephramite except the first time we are introduced to him is Exodus 17:9 and it is as if he's always been with Moses and he is not referred to as the son of Nun nor as being an Ephramite. He just is Joshua in the same manner that Moses was also first introduced to us without a father or mother's name. Moses refers to the two of them as a team as he instructs "Choose for us". These are two men that have stood together, shared their thoughts, and have known each other's moves for a very long time. The next time Joshua is mentioned is in Numbers 13:16 when Moses changes his name from Hosea to Joshua. Accordingly he is referred to as Ho-shua the son of Nun with no reference to the tribe of Ephraim. It is no coincidence that in the Egyptian pantheon the god Nun raised the god Shu from the primeval abyss. Shu represented the space between heaven and earth, a link between men and God. Shu was considered the son of Nun in Egyptian mythology. Egyptian royals bearing the name of a praticular god would often name their own children according to the pantheon. Is this merely a coincidence, that Moses is Nunmoses and Joshua is Ha-Shu both bearing Egyptian god names corresponding to a father and son? Or is this telling us more about the relationship between Moses and Joshua that makes far more sense from a dynastic perspective?  Just in the same way that the Egyptian god reference had to be removed from Moses' name, so too did the reference have to be removed from Joshua's.  And Moses we are told is the one that made this alteration to Joshua's name and in all likelihood he was the one to drop Nun from his own name. 

Questions You Should Ask

Anan ben David was not opposed to questioning what was written in the Torah. In fact he encouraged it because he believed that over the centuries the Rabbis had dared to alter the sacred text rather than have the truth discovered. Truths which Anan believed would only enhance Judaism by the reader seeing human frailties and foibles. The rabbis on the other hand felt that the religious icons could not be seen with blemishes and attempted to conceal these by direct editing or instructing their followers that statements were merely metaphors that needed interpretation. Both practices were condemned by Anan and he believed that Karaites would be able to read the Torah and see the truth. We would not be deceived by the alterations and we would rejoice in the discovery of the Torah as it was origninally written. In that regard I ask you as readers the following questions just to emphasize the points made in this hub:

1. If Moses did have an Ethiopian Princess as his first wife, (See then wouldn't it have been natural that he had children by her? Since Moses was a Prince in Egypt and his wife a Princess of Ethiopia, that child would be an aristrocratic royal by birth. Wouldn't that child be an Epher in the Egyptian language?  Wouldn't that child have been a leader amongst the Israelites?

2. If Moses was the ultimate leader of the nation, then why are his children in the Torah purposely excluded from any authority of the Israelites during and after his death as it now readss,  based on the information given to us? Or is it there but cleverly concealed and Joshua is his son by his Ethiopian princess and therefore a descendant of Moses did lead the nation as would be expected?

3. If Moses was of the tribe of Levi, just like Aaron, and they were brothers, then why is the entire priesthood given to Aaron's descendants and none to those of Moses? We know from the Torah that there was a constant struggle between Moses and Aaron, was there more going on?

4. If Moses' father-in-law Jethro was the priest of Midian, then his children by Zipporah, Gershom and Eliezer would be priests on both sides and more representative of religious cult of the Israelites. Why then are neither of his children given any role in the priesthood?

5. If Moses is in charge of picking his own successor, how is it that he picks a complete unknown who only appears once in the entire book of Exodus, yet in that one appearance the impression is given that he has always been Moses' right hand man? There was obviously a familiarity there that exceeded any great doings by Joshua prior to this event.

6. Why is it that the wording in Exodus in the early chapters refer to Houses, similar to the Egyptian connotation of Houses of the aristocracy and not to tribes?  It says even the midwives were given Houses as their reward for saving the children.  Only rulers could reward people with Houses in the sense of our knighthood.  Who was this highly placed royal awarding midwives with aristocratic titles?

7. Why are the names of Moses' parents absent in Exodus II yet present in what is an obvious later addition by Levitical priests In Exodus 6:14-26? The repetition of 6:13 in 6:27 serves as a marker to not that the insertion took place between these two sentences; almost like quotation marks. The priest responsible was in a hurry to push the insertion through, giving only the generations of Reuben, Simeon and Levi and forgetting that there were at least nine other tribes that were to be brought out of Egypt as well.  What was he covering up that he felt the insertion was necessary?

8. And even as a later addition, why does this Levite editor give the name of Moses' father in Exodus 6:20 as a conjunction of two royal Egyptian names, Amose and Ramses or AmRam?

9. And if Amram was the name of Moses' father then why is he marrying his aunt Jochebed in 6:20 which was a practice more customary of the Egyptian royal house?  And how could Jochebed (Yah's Glory) be her name if worship of Yahweh hadn't been established until Moses received God's name much later? 

10. And if Amram lived for 137 years according to Exodus 6:20, then why wasn't he present during the exodus from Egypt? His mother was and she was already much older than Amram being his aunt according to Exodus 6:20?  So what is the real purpose of Exodus 6:20 if all it does is provide misinformation?

The questions are designed only to make you realize that there was an intentional effort to cover up the true history of Moses' origins. The additions in Exodus 6 that I pointed out were meant to be seen as obvious additions, the editor wanting his sentences to be discovered and not considered part of original Torah as handed down by Moses. But he in turn raised interesting issues concerning Jochebed and Amram, giving several hints as to their identity in the process. But these will be reserved for another hub at another time.


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