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Moe and the volcano

Apr 07, 2002 08:10 AM
by Steve Stubbs

Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, wrote an
intensely interesting monograph called MOSES AND
MONOTHEISM, which can be found in most public
libraries. In it he says the literary character Moses
is believed by historians to be a synthesis of at
least two historical characters who became folk heroes
to the same people in different centuries. The reason
for this conclusion is that there have never been any
volcanoes in the Sinai Desert, and the fellow who went
to the land of the Midianites was a volcano
worshipper. The fellow who led a revolt against the
Egyptians and was eventually expelled from Egypt was
almost certainly not a volcano worshipper, in other
words, so the legends which have to do with volcano
worship belong to the history of another hero. Nobody
disputes that both of these men were historical
characters. One of Freud's sources for this was
Breasted's THE DAWN OF CONSCIENCE. There is no
question that these conclusions are true, since we
know that two of their cities (Sodom and Gomorrah)
were completely buried in volcanic ash and lava. Not
knowing how to deal with the ferocity of nature, these
ancient people decided to regard the volcano as a
sentient being and try to placate it with prayers and
sacrifices. Of course, the only rational thing to do
was move out of the neighborhood, but in ancient
times, before mass communication, the neighborhood was
the world, so this did not seem like a workable

After reading Freud's book I became intrigued by his
statement that the deity mentioned in the story was a
volcano, so decided to download the exodus story,
which can be found everywhere on the Internet. Here
are some statements from that book which prove that
this conclusion is true, given with chapter and verse
in case anyone wants to check:

9:23, 24 "The LORD sent thunder and hail, and the fire
ran along upon the ground; and the LORD rained hail
upon the land of Egypt. So there was hail, and fire
mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there
was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it
became a nation.

13:21 "And the LORD went before them by day in a
pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night
in a pillar of fire, to give them light

19:16 it came to pass on the third day in the morning,
that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick
cloud upon the mount

24:16 "the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai,
and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day
he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.
And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like
devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of
the children of Israel. And Moses went into the midst
of the cloud"

One of Moses' ten plagues had to do with the air over
Egypt being filled with volcanic ash, which obscured
the sun. Since there were no volcanoes in Egypt, this
story would have to be considered a bit of literary
license on the part of the ancient writer, thus:

10:21 Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven;
and there was a thick darkness in all the land of
Egypt three days

There are numerous other references to a volcano in
the story. The statements that the volcano was
situated in Egypt would have to be considered literary
license or confusion on the part of the ancient
writer. The name "Mose" (the "s" at the end was added
by the translators of the Septuagint when the story
was rendered into Greek) is an Egyptian name, so it is
quite likely the name of the Egyptian rebel leader
really was Mose. The Midianite fellow may have been
named after him, thus the confusion, but this is
speculation. Nobody knows for sure.

The volcano god was not regarded by these ancient
people as a "supreme being" in the modern sense of the
word, but as a tribal deity, or, more precisely, as a
neighborhood nuisance which had to be dealt with but
could hardly be loved. Thus the emphasis on the
"fear" of this elemental force. There was no question
among these folks of an afterlife, and they did not
admire the volcano. They merely feared it. Those
other ideas (worship, love, hope of an afterlife,
etc.) were imported from Persia centuries later and
originated with a people who had an entirely different

According to the legend, after being expelled from
Egypt, the volcano's followers imagined it had ordered
them to rape and pillage everything in sight and seize
land wherever they found people too weak to defend
themselves. We cannot fault them for this, because
this was the way it was done in the ancient world. It
is the way things are done in countries such as Iraq
to the present day. We also cannot reasonably fault
people who had to live with a volcano for trying to
come to terms with this destructive force as best they
could. Had I been alive then, I am quite sure I would
have been throwing offerings at the thing right along
with the rest of them.

Since the time exodus was written the volcano has
sputtered its last poop and gone extinct. Nobody
misses it. Nobody pays homage to volcanoes anymore,
let alone volcanoes that have sputtered their last
poop (Poop! Poop!) and gone extinct. Is there
something Nietszchean about this?

Despite the death of this "god" we have people today
saying "I really hate to take their land, but a dead
volcano ordered me to do it, so I have no choice." I
don't blame them. That land has commercial value. As
one Israeli citizen was shown on 60 MINUTES saying a
week or so ago: "Palestinians are not human anyway. 
They're just animals. Take their land!" Apparently
he considers himself some sort of zoological expert,
deciding who is and who is not human. Hitler did the
same thing, classifying people he wanted to oppress as
subhuman. Besides, real estate has commercial value.

I think I'll make my money honestly. The "animals"
that fellow spoke about are shooting back and the IDF
is cautiously avoiding confrontation with them. It
was reported on 60 MINUTES II last Wednesday that
Israeli soldiers are shooting civilians in the back
and standing over them laughing at them while they
bleed to death in the street. Ambulance drivers who
try to reach the sick and wounded are targeted by IDF
sharpshooters as "terrorists." When they find
combatants instead of helpless citizens, the IDF runs
like the vermin they are. A Palestinian professor
said on the news they want them to keep running, back
to Russia or Poland or wherever they came from. 
Armies which shoot civilians and avoid combat lose in
the end.

It's enough to make even a dead volcano blow its top.

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