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Freud, S. (1939). If Moses was an Egyptian …. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 20:1-32.

(1939). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 20:1-32

If Moses was an Egyptian …

Sigmund Freud

In an earlier publication I have tried to strengthen by a new argument the suggestion that the man Moses, the liberator and law-giver of the Jewish people, was not a Jew, but an Egyptian. That his name derived from the Egyptian vocabulary had long been observed, though not duly appreciated. I added to this consideration the further one that the interpretation of the exposure myth attaching to Moses necessitated the conclusion that he was an Egyptian whom a people needed to make into a Jew. At the end of my essay I said that important and far-reaching conclusions could be drawn from the suggestion that Moses was an Egyptian; but I was not prepared to uphold them publicly, since they were based only on psychological probabilities and lacked objective proof. The more significant the possibilities thus discerned the more cautious is one about exposing them to the critical attack of the outside world without any secure foundation—like an iron monument with feet of clay. No probability, however seductive, can protect us from error; even if all parts of a problem seem to fit together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, one has to remember that the probable need not necessarily be the truth and the truth not always probable. And, lastly, it is not attractive to be classed with the scholastics and talmudists who are satisfied to exercise their ingenuity—unconcerned how far removed their conclusions may be from the truth.

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