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Kestenberg, J.S. (1994). Freud's Moses: Judaism Terminable and Interminable: By Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi. New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 1991. 159 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 63:383-387.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 63:383-387

Freud's Moses: Judaism Terminable and Interminable: By Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi. New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 1991. 159 pp.

Review by:
Judith S. Kestenberg

This is a book written with a mission. It is not simply a critique of Freud's Moses and Monotheism, but rather an intriguing exploration of the author behind the work, specifically, the nature of his Jewish identity. Yerushalmi was inspired to write his book as he reread Freud's work while attending a series of meetings on anti-Semitism. He then posed the question of what Freud's intent and feelings were when he advanced the thesis that Moses was not Jewish but rather an Egyptian prince and that he was murdered by the Jews.

According to Freud, Moses was influenced by the monotheistic philosophy of one of the pharaohs, Amenhotep IV, and attempted to spread the idea among the Egyptian people. When they refused to accept his message, Moses (not God) chose the Hebrew slaves to be his followers. He led them out of bondage in Egypt, only to be horrified at their continued idolatry. The Hebrews did not accept Moses' reproaches, but murdered him instead.

In this view, the slaying of Moses by the Jewish idol-worshippers was repressed and therefore doomed to repetition. In the Christian era, we find the slaying of Jesus Christ, again by the Jews. Paul had a notion that the Jews were unhappy because they killed God (Jesus Christ). He said the Christians are free of guilt because Christ sacrificed his life to absolve their guilt.

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