Excerpt: ALL OF A KEY, an unpublished novel: (Scene: Seniors Alice and Lou and Twenty-something Charlie tour Cairo Museum)
The ground floor of Cairo Museum was dominated by a statue of Queen Tiye seated beside her husband, Amenhotep III, in a huge composition seven meters high and five meters wide.
“For the first time in Egyptian history,” Alice said, “the queen is shown the same size as the king. She was a commoner. Her father, Yuya, was her husband’s chief vizier, as he had been for his father, Tuthmosis IV. We’re going to see him today.”
“He would be important, why?” Lou asked, fumbling with his folding map guide to the exhibit halls.
“The Exodus may have occurred at several different times and places, and a great deal of money and faith has been expended to ‘prove’ each of them. Each has its merits and advocates, each its flaws and detractors. What is incontrovertible is that a Semitic tribe co-mingled with the Egyptian pharaonic family, fell afoul of orthodox Egyptian authorities, left or fled Egypt, looting as much of the place as possible as they went, setting up a religious opposition and a separate organization that not only challenged Egyptian traditions, but declared a ‘special,’ ‘separate,’ and ‘supreme,’ relationship and claim to the only true god.”
“God,” Lou agreed.
“Inventing different versions of the same truth, denying common roots, and claiming sovereignty over the myth has been criminally disruptive. Akhenaten and his Habiru-Shasu shepherd henchmen were power-obsessed manipulators, breaking the peace and harmony of the world for personal gain.”
“Selfish bastards,” Lou agreed. “Let me get this straight, you’re talkin’ about Joseph and Moses and those guys, right?”
“I’m talking about a particularly garbled tract of proto-history, beginning with the Story of Joseph in what is referred to as the first book of the Old Testament in the compendium called collectively the Holy Bible.”
“Oh,” Lou said.
“Scholars agree,” Alice continued, “that the Joseph Story was an original narration put down in writing in the 9th Century B.C. and is thought to be the Judah-Israel version. A second story came a century later, the Reuben-Jacob version. The story in Genesis is mainly from the two sources, however, priests returning from the Babylonian exile arranged the sources, and added details: Joseph’s age (30) at time of Pharaoh’s elevation, the number of the tribe of Israel that went down into Egypt (70), the length of the sojourn (430 years), and Joseph’s request to be buried in Canaan. Then, an editor, sometime before the second century B.C. took on the task of making one story from the three sources, and added the section on Joseph’s death and his request to be reburied in Canaan on his own initiative, or orders.”
Lou looked at her blankly.
“People believe a cobbled, fiddled myth,” she said. “We must go to its roots to see the truth, which should prevail. However, our self-deception and self-aggrandizement overpower facts with inventions suiting our basest desires for certainty and dominance.”
“Yeah, but so what?” Lou disagreed. “Guy got lucky, huh?”
“Okay, Alice,” Lou said, “men wrote the Talmud and the Bible…”
“…and the Koran,” she said.
“…and the Koran, but refute this: they also made the mistakes – not God. God had to use several men until we correctly reconstructed what happened.”
“With another man to pronounce the trail ended. Neatly bent,” she complimented. “First rate religious counterpoint to reason. That’s just the trouble, isn’t it? Religious people see what they’ve taught themselves to believe and deny any exception on the grounds of deviltry and perdition.
“Muhammad is the descendent of another of Abraham’s sons,” Alice continued. “Ishmael out of Hagar, Sarah (Sarai’s) Egyptian maid. Muhammad was born in Mecca in A.D. 570, eighteen centuries after Exodus. He started his mission at age 40 or so, preaching to Arab idolaters the ‘true faith’: Islam, the monotheistic Hanif religion of his remote ancestor Abraham. Hanif is the Islamic word for someone who believes in one God, but is not a Jew, a Christian, or a worshipper of idols.
“Significantly,” Alice said, “the Koran agrees with the Judah-Israel and Reuben-Jacob versions of the story, but ends there, making no connection to the later priestly and editor’s additions. This reinforces the conviction that the original story is in the first two sources, before it was given shape, or included Joseph’s reburial in Canaan. It helps convince me that he never left Egypt.”
“So, where’d he go?” Lou scoffed.
“He’s in Room Number 12 according to the floor map,” she replied. “I like what I understand of the ancient Egyptian concept of our relation to god. God created all out of thought and word. Everything is part of god. The million gods are one; all creation, everything, is part of the whole. Hence, the world went out of balance when the Akhenaten-Moses megalomaniac took his god out of Egypt and set him up separate above everything else in the world. It would be good for all of us, if we recognized and nourished the roots instead of losing ourselves in the branches. Of course, anything is possible, Lou, but let’s have a look at this particular mummy. I really believe it’s your Joseph.”
Yuya had a long thin dignified face, almost alive, wearing a calm confident expression. The position of his hands was striking. They were normally placed over the chest in the Osirian position, but here, in the only example Alice had ever seen, the palms were down just under the chin, as if giving reverence, not to the gods, but to himself.
Unusually, his ears were unpierced. His strong, aquiline features and hooked nose immediately suggested foreign, possibly Semitic origin. His white hair and aged appearance indicated that he was at least sixty years old when he died.
“Commanding figure,” Lou admitted. “Lot of character in that face: full, strong lips, prominent determined jaw. He could wake right up. Wow! What an embalming job.”
“He’s the originator of the great religious movement that his daughter and grandson carried into execution.”
“Come on, he could be Syrian, or anything. You don’t know he’s Moses.”
“He is Yuya, father of Tiye, whom Amenhotep III made his Great Royal Wife. Their son, Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten) married his cousin, Nefertiti, Yuya’s grand daughter by his son Aye. Akhenaten closed the temples, banned the ancient gods of Egypt, and established a monotheistic God, like the God of Israel, with himself as high priest. I believe he can be linked to Moses, or rather to the mythological stereotype we know as ‘Moses.’”
Looking at the well-preserved features, Lou thought that Yuya did have the face of an ecclesiastic; there was something around the mouth.
“I have in my files at home,” Alice said, “a photocopy of Yuya’s titles, taken from the book written in 1907 by Theodore M. Davis. One of them was it ntr n nb tawi, “the holy father of the Lord of the Two Lands”, and not just the common semi-priestly it ntr, “the father of the god”. That certainly sounds like a blood relation, doesn’t it? If we’re ever to get the truth, this is a good reason for re-examination.”
“To what end, Alice?” Charlie asked.
“All three religions revere Joseph,” she replied. “If this is he…”
“They’ll kill each other to get him,” Charlie said. “Best to let the poor beggar lie. If that’s your Joseph, or anyone else’s, he didn’t get to Canaan, but he looks content. Let’s not trouble his rest.”
Lou laughed and nodded. Alice took a few notes and made a sketch from which she would later do an ink painting. Yuya’s profile was particularly interesting, she thought. He’s not Syrian.
Moses the Egyptian, Jan Assman, the memory of Egypt in Western Monotheism. Harvard University Press. The author is Professor of Egyptology at the University of Heidelberg.
Hebrew Pharaohs of Egypt, Ahmed Osman, the secret lineage of the Patriarch Joseph. Bear & Company. Cairo-born author presents results of twenty-two years writing and research.