The Mountain of Moses

The three phases in the life of the sun god Re were apotheosis, exile, and exodus. The apotheosis of Re occurred after he “went down to Egypt” and was made ruler there. The exile occurred after Re authorized the murder of Osiris and had to take refuge within the Great Pyramid (from which he was eventually released). The exodus occurred after Re returned to Egypt in a time of upheaval from his exile in Babylon (where he was known as the god Marduk) .

The first to play the role of Re in the dynastic period was Khufu of the 4th Dynasty. Khufu took charge in Lower (Northern) Egypt and took ownership of the Great Pyramid as the center of his cult apparatus. Khufu probably did kill at least one “Egyptian”, namely his first designated successor Kawab. He probably also had Djedefre put to death. Khufu’s wrath was “against the gods of Egypt” (other than Re) and he closed their temples. He was an unpopular king (according to later legend), however there is no record of him being exiled much less returning to lead an Exodus. The upheaval that led to the collapse of the Old Kingdom, destruction of monuments, and temporary abandonment of Egypt by the royal family for Mesopotamia came many years after his death.

As a result of Old Kingdom events, the role of Re became disjointed. Other “innovations” in the role occurred at the start of the Middle Kingdom. Inyotef (Sargon) was hidden in the marsh as a baby in identification with Horus the Younger. However, while still a prince (in both Egypt and Mesopotamia) he was forced to flee the royal court and take refuge from a rival prince that wanted to execute him. After regrouping in Egpyt, Inyotef-Sargon returned to Mesopotamia and overthrew that rival king, which led to his apotheosis as Great King over the entire Empire (of Egypt and Mesopotamia). His son (or grandson) Inyotef II-Gudea delivered the oppressed out of Egypt (completing that which Sargon left unfinished in the role of sun-god) and also doubled as a Horus the Younger figure.

Note: The Biblical episode of baby Moses in the bulrushes derives from Sargon’s bastardized role playing. This was an element of the Horus tradition that melded (by accident) with the Re tradition.

At the end of the Middle Kingdom another prince of Egypt was initially being groomed as a young Horus, by the name of Au-ibre Hor. However, this all changed when he became guilty of blinding a rival prince. Consequently, he was exiled to Babylon of Mesopotamia under the name Hammurabi. After 40 years in Mesopotamia, Au-ibre/Hammurabi broke his exile and returned to Egypt during a time of devastating Nile floods. Although he succeeded in rescuing a multitude, another great prince, Abi-eshuuh/Salitis, would have to resettle them in the “Land of Canaan”.

In the New Kingdom, pharaoh Amenhotep II relocated the royal court to Lower Egypt and built a temple beside the Sphinx as part of his appointed role as the next sun-god. It would however be another Amenhotep, Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten), who was called upon to complete the epic cycle of Ra by enduring a mock exile (at Amarna) beginning in his Year 5, and then suffering the further indignity of being compelled in his Year 17 to lead a mock Exodus of over-worked, diseased and dying subjects.

The complexity of the Re archetype made it difficult to fulfill by a single prince/king. It was obviously also in the interest of any prince designated for that role to emphasize the apotheosis element and postpone the required exile and exodus elements. In fact, it was even more appealing to reserve the undesirable parts for a younger prince (who then functioned as a substitute/surrogate for the senior king). Eventually the split role became canonized. Re as glorified sojourner in Egypt (a.k.a. Biblical Jacob) was separated from Re the persecuted human rights advocate (a.k.a. Biblical Moses).

Sacrificial Moses role:

The Jacob story was fairly straightforward. Jacob went down to Egypt, wrestled with gods and men, and in the end prevailed. His apotheosis was signified with a new name/title, that of Israel. Moses was a very different story! How could the Biblical author do justice to the changelings obliged to play the dark side of Re? The story line decided upon goes as follows. Moses is hidden in the bulrushes as an infant (ala Horus the Younger). He experiences a mini-apotheosis by becoming a “Prince of Egypt”. His bright future is ruined however when he intercedes on behalf of an abused worker, kills the taskmaster, and then attempts a cover-up. He waits for the overlord that imposes his exile to die (rather than raising an army and killing him ala Sargon). He doesn’t seek power again in Egypt, but only to deliver the oppressed (ala Hammurabi).

There are traces of at least two Exodus routes in the Biblical account, one that fords the Red Sea and another that crosses a Sea of Reeds. There are also at least two different names/locations for the mountain where Moses and the Exodus party arrive in the desert, one is Mt. Sinai and another is Mt. Horeb. The archetypal “Mountain of Moses” was the Great Pyramid of Giza as Ralph Ellis has proposed (in his book “Tempest and Exodus”). However, the basis for that conclusion is not a Hyksos Period Exodus, but the archetypal Ra myth itself. As noted above, the Great Pyramid was where the god Ra both “laid down the law” (as part of his apotheosis) and sought refuge (upon being accused of murder and prior to his disgrace for that murder and exile to Mesopotamia).

The scene at Mt. Sinai in the Biblical Exodus story is necessary to complete the Moses typecasting (after the god Re) but strictly speaking is not in the original order. However, as we have seen, almost everything about the role of sun-god got dislocated in the various “Re-Enactments” of the dynastic era. An event that was initially part of Re’s fall from power became associated with his ultimate triumph over an Egypt that had rejected him not only once but twice.

The Great Pyramid, archetypal Mt. Sinai, was the consummate multi-purpose facility. It embodied knowledge, if not also housing “a hall of records”. It was an astronomical observatory. It could be used for land surveying. It attracted lightning, which may have brought down nitrogen to fertilize the Delta (“Land of Goshen”). It was a factory for chemical/alchemical reactions and transformations (with a drain for salt waste products).

It could withstand assault by meteors, earthquakes, and great floods. The underground chamber of the Great Pyramid remained bone-dry during the highest Inundation. It provided a shelter against attacks (from above and below). It was (or became) a place of retreat and renewal for an embattled sun god and his followers against human enemies. It could act as a kind of stationary/anchored Noah’s Ark, and was equipped with a self-closing door! It possessed terrible, deadly powers of defense. It was (or became) the ultimate safe room within a maximum security base commanded by a god-king.

The Mt. Sinai of Giza was not necessarily designed to be a “city of refuge” for a ruling king, but it on occasion became one! It was probably never intended to be a burial place either. However, it was (or became) a place of symbolic burial and kingly resurrection. It was certainly the place where the doomed political career of Re was resuscitated. Consistent with this, the Book of Exodus vividly portrays Moses as the beleaguered god Re holed up in his “desert fortress”. There is a palpable paranoia, death threats and a fearsome display of ancient "fire power", the breaking and restoring of laws, an ominous presence of a domineering queen (a veritable goddess patterned after the horrifying Sphinx), an unnamed human sacrifice (so that the sun god could again be reborn through the shedding of blood and go free), appointment of a new Messianic leader (Joshua/neo-Horus the Younger), and finally somber departure toward a “Promised Land”.

In the Bible, the “Mountain of Moses/Musa” has at least two different names, Mt. Sinai and Mt. Hor/Horeb. Horeb means “white” and the Giza Pyramids were known for the brilliant whiteness of their Tura limestone veneer. (The 2nd Pyramid of Khafre/Horus the Elder retained its pure white facing stones the longest, and this may be the source of the name Horeb.) The name Sinai relates to the god Sin (corresponding to the Egyptian god Thoth), and is suggestive of disobedience/rebellion. The Great Pyramid parallels the great ziggurat of Babylon (“Tower of Babel”), which was also known for its defiance of a “higher power”. It was not only the people that were considered insubordinate, but the maverick god Marduk (Re in exile) who was leading them astray (at least from the perspective of the superior “G” (Shu-Enlil). Rebels and their works had to be disabled.

Note: The general idea of Exodus was to take people out of Egypt. The Exodus of Akhenaten was pehaps the exception that proved the rule. His Exodus may have in fact found its way from Amarna to the Giza Plateau for the required negotiations and agreement on a "new covenant" (that allowed Tutankhamun to succeed Akhenaten as pharaoh).

Note: The New Testament analog of Mt. Sinai/Horeb is the “Mount of Transfiguration” where disciples Peter and John witnessed a summit meeting between Jesus (Joshua/Rue in the role of Horus the Younger), Moses (in the role of Re), and Elijah (Eliezer/Joktan in the role of Osiris).

Note: The pyramidal mountain at the head of the Valley of the Kings is called El-Qurna, “The Horn”. Compare the Biblical title of God, El-Shaddai, “The Breast”.

Note: The Biblical place name Paran may be a Hebraized form of the Egyptian “Per-Anu/On”.


Note: The sun’s furthest “retreat” is the Tropic of Cancer, about 24.5 degrees north latitude at the summer solstice. An excursion of the sun (or the sun-god) that approached the 30th parallel would represent an exile (figuratively speaking).

Note: The Great Pyramid induced lightning and thereby could have increased land fertility:

Mt. Moriah and the Great Pyramid:

Mt. Nissa:

Review of “Tempest and Exodus”:
(entire thread of interest)

Ralph Ellis article:

Ralph Ellis book "Tempest & Exodus"

Ralph Ellis’ “Eden in Egypt”

Comments about Sinai and the Great Pyramid from the Internet “peanut gallery”: