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=> Have no fear, Sargon is here!

Have no fear, Sargon is here!
Posted by Paul Younan (Guest) - Thursday, October 14 2004, 20:35:25 (CEST)
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Khizmi Tiglath,

I'd like to answer your charge that the story of Moses is a plagairized from the story of Sargon of Akkad. The sources in which you read this charge are outdated, as I will demonstrate later. First let's set up with the Moses story:

Exodus 2:1-10:
"And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi. And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months. And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river's brink. And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him. And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river's side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it. And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews' children. Then said his sister to Pharaoh's daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee? And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child's mother. And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the woman took the child, and nursed it. And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water."

Now let's move on to Sargon. Here's his story.

Brian Lewis' The Sargon Legend (American Schools of Oriental Research, 1978:
"Sargon, strong king, king of Agade, am I. My mother was a high priestess, my father I do not know. My paternal kin inhabit the mountain region. My city (of birth) is Azupiranu, which lies on the bank of the Euphrates. My mother, a high priestess, conceived me, in secret she bore me. She placed me in a reed basket, with bitumen she caulked my hatch. She abandoned me to the river from which I could not escape. The river carried me along: to Aqqi, the water drawer, it brought me. Aqqi, the water drawer, when immersing his bucket lifted me up. Aqqi, the water drawer, raised me as his adopted son. Aqqi, the water drawer, set me to his garden work. During my garden work, Istar loved me (so that) 55 years I ruled as king."

The four similarities between the two accounts are:

(1) The secrecy factor surrounding the birth
(2) The placing in a reed basket, covered with bitumen
(3) The setting in a river
(4) The recovery and adoption

However, let's take a look at the much more significant among these four apparent similiarities:

(1) The secrecy factor surrounding the birth. In Exodus it is quite clear why the secrecy is needed: Moses is in serious danger of being killed.

Sargon's story, on the other hand, gives no reason for the secrecy, but the social background explains it: As a high priestess, Sargon's mother had to avoid pregnancy to hold her office. Such high priestesses were normally members of the royal house, and hence Sargon had a claim to royalty.

On the other hand, there was nothing about Moses' mother that would stand as a parallel. Therefore the secrecy is simply a coincidence.

In addition, Sargon's unknown father indicates he was a bastard, which is not paralleled in the Exodus story of Moses.

(2) The placing in a reed basket, covered with bitumen. Bitumen or pitch would of course be needed to seal any basket set afloat on a river.

In the Moses account, we have a logical reason for the basket: such a basket would easily be taken for the sort that was attached to Egyptian ships to carry idols. This was designed to attract attention from the Egyptians.

On the other hand, the verb describing the actions of Sargon's mother "n-p-l" means to throw or cast down, and has the secondary sense of "to abandon." Her actions were not intended to lead to Sargon being discovered. It was clear that Sargon's mother wished to conceal her illegitimate pregnancy by abandoning the baby.

That the baby be discovered and adopted was the clear intention of Moses' mother, who was married.

(3) The setting in a river. Note well that Sargon is abandoned to the current, whereas Moses is set among reeds. Abandoned babies, like Sargon, were typically left in places of danger. In Moses' case we have exactly the opposite....the plan is designed to get him out of danger.

(4) The recovery and adoption. Aside from the main difference being that Moses was found by a woman and Sargon by a man, the adoption itself is not unusual. Both Egyptian and Mesopotamian practice of adopting a son and heir, including one that was a foundling, was not uncommon. Again, this is a mere coincidence.

Now, do you want to talk about the differences? Anyone who is not blind can see the multitude of differences between the stories:

(1) One is rescued by a princess, the other by a male water-drawer
(2) Moses knew who his father was, Sargon on the other hand was an illegitimate child
(3) Moses' mother was a slave in Egypt. Sargon's mother was a high-priestess and part of the elite ruling class
(4) Only Sargon's hatch was caulked with bitumen, while Moses' entire basket was caulked with it
(5) Moses' mother waited for 3 months before setting him afloat on the Nile, Sargon's mother presumably placed him in the Euphrates immediately after he was born...since she could not be seen with an illegitimate child.

When we take all of these things into consideration, the only reasonable conclusion that can be drawn is that the stories contain very little similiarity which are the result of mere coincidence.



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