Aaron, Moses & the god Haurun
H. Abdul Al-Dahir
Before one begins an analysis of biblical Moses, it would be advantageous to explore the Moses (Musa) of the Quran. The search for Musa has been as intense as the search for Yusuf. Again, Allah (swt ) has not only revealed the vital clues in his revelation of the Quran, but He has preserved the necessary archaeological data to confirm the historical presence of His Prophet in Egypt.
First, the Arabic word for pharaoh (fr3wn) must be clarified as it does not match the Egyptian, Coptic, Hebrew or Greek names which are all based on the LXX (Septuagint) rendering of the name or p(h)arao. The Egyptian name is pr aA or O1-O29 meaning ‘great (aA) house (pr)’. So, one must look for the Egyptian meaning of fr3wn as Egyptian hieroglyphs and Egyptian mythology are extensively referenced in the Quran’s story of the Prophet Musa (as). Since, there is no letter ‘p’ in Arabic, one must use the letter ‘f’ as a substitute. Fr in Arabic is the word pr or O1 and means house. The remaining letters ayin, waw, nun are found in the Egyptian lexicon as an exact match or D36-E34-N35-A24 or 3wn. 3wn means ‘to despoil, plunder, pillage’. So, Fr3wn means pillaged/plundered house not great house or Pharaoh. King Khufu built a great house as his final abode in death aka the great pyramid of Giza. It was immediately plundered after his entombment. This pyramid is the ‘tall impressive building’ in Quran 40:36. So, this tall, impressive building about which he bragged to the Prophet Musa was immediately despoiled, his tomb treasures were robbed and his mummy was desecrated.
In addition, the Egyptian word 3wn D36-E34-N35-A2 also means wailing, moaning. So Fir3wn could also mean the house of wailing in grief. Khufu’s eldest son and crown prince, Kawab, died before he could ascend the throne. Allah (swt) may be identifying this Egyptian king as the one who lost his eldest son and heir. The bible does acknowledge that the Musa’s pharaoh lost his first borne to a plague in Exodus 11. Furthermore, 3wn D36-E34-N35-A24 also means greedy. All of these meanings, the despoiled house, the house of wailing in grief and the greedy house fit the Pharaoh Khufu.
There is an important clue in the Quran as to the identity of the fr3wn of Musa. Sura 28:38 states: Fr3wn said: “O Leaders, I don’t know if you have a god other than myself, therefore, O Haman! Light (a fire) on the clay and build for me a high building that I may mount up to the god of Musa, but as far as I’m concerned, I think he is a liar.”
Sura 10:92 states: “This day shall We save you (fr3wn) in your body, that you may be a sign to those who come after you. But truly, many among mankind are heedless of our signs.”
Haman is Arabic for Hemon (Chronicle of the Pharaohs by Peter A. Clayton, published by Thames and Hudson, page 47), which is English for the Egyptian hieroglyphs U36-O28-G43, currently pronounced by Western scholars as Hemiunu; a name which means ‘Priest of Awn’. Awn or On was the city dedicated to the Egyptian sun god, Ra. Ancient Egyptian is a language in which words were written in pictograms. Only the pictograms or hieroglyphs, U36-O28-G43, appear in the original texts. The pronunciation of these hieroglyphs is very uncertain so the current pronunciation, ‘Hemiunu, is speculative. Haman was the nephew, prince, master builder, chief of works and wazir to the 4th dynasty King Khufu (2589-2566 BCE) or Cheops who built the Cheops pyramid:
“Hemiumu was the son of Nefermaat I and Atet and the grandson of Sneferu. His statue has a list of his titles inscribed on it: “Member of the elite, high official, vizier, king’s seal bearer, attendant of Nekhen, and spokesman of every resident of Pe, priest of Bastest, priest of Shesmetet, priest of the Ram Mendes, keeper of the Apis Bull, the White Bull, whom his lord loves, elder of the palace, high priest of Thoth, whom his lord loves, courtier, Overseer of Royal Scribes, priest of the Panther Goddess, Director of Music of the South and North, Overseer of All Construction Projects of the King, king’s [grand]son of his own body”.
The second title from last is perhaps the most important as it confirms that he was the overseer in charge of building the burial palace of the pharaoh (amongst other monuments). As a result, he is often credited as the architect responsible for the Great Pyramid of Khufu. He was buried in a mastaba close to the pyramid.
Haman’s tomb was discovered in 1912 and is located next to the great pyramid. Haman’s statue is in the Roemer und Pelizaeus Museum, in Germany and was displayed in the US in 1996 at the “Splendors of Ancient Egypt exhibition”.
It was Haman, who designed and built this pyramid for Khufu. Khufu’s pyramid was a monument to his patron deity, Khnum, the rams-headed god of resurrection who also was represented as the great pillar that upheld the sky. Khufu’s pyramid was meant to represent Khnum in his role as the support of the sky; a pillar which was also a stairway to an afterlife of eternal abundance and bliss for the pharaoh who aspired to live among the deities he worshiped. This is what Pharaoh meant, when he told Haman to build him a high building, so he could climb up to the God of Musa.
TWhen Khufu ordered Haman to build the tall building to see the God of Musa, he was thinking to imitate Djoser’s famous tomb, which was designed as a stairway to heaven. Haman designed Khufu’s pyramid so that it surpassed Imhotep’s in size and splendor; making the tomb the largest structure in Egypt. Haman used escape hatches or doors in Khufu’s pyramid instead of stairs. These doors were designed as escape routes for Pharaoh’s ka or soul. Haman must have thought that it would be much easier for Pharaoh to fly into heaven through magical doors than to use a the laborious staircase of the step pyramid design. Furthermore, when the Quran mentions that Fr3wn would be preserved in his body, it is a clue that this pharaoh was mummified.
According to the Quran, the Fr3wn of Musa was so arrogant and cruel that he thought nothing of murdering children (Q 28:4). Khufu was ruthless and has retained that historical characterization even today. He was noted for his expeditions into the Sinai to conquer the Semitic people dwelling there. His arrogance led him to believe that he himself was a god as was also mentioned in the Quran. He called himself Re (sun god), was worshiped as a god and had his own cult. Also preserved in the Westcar Papyrus, which was written about 900 years after the reign of Khufu, is the name of one of the magicians that worked for Khufu. His name was Djedi. (Khufu’s magicians are mentioned extensively in the Quran, especially Surah 7:112-126)
Quran also names the Fr3wn of Musa as “fr3wn al awtad”, or the fr3wn of the logs or poles (Quran 89:10). Khufu, followed his father’s (King Snefru) policy of importing cedar logs stripped of their bark or poles from Lebanon. As a matter of fact, Khufu’s name is inscribed at Byblos, because he imported tons of cedar poles from Lebanon for his building projects. Khufu’s son, Djedfre, also imported cedar poles to construct his father’s fleet of funerary ships, some of which were excavated from around Cheops pyramid.
Contrary to the biblical position that Yacoub’s tribe was enslaved to build the monuments of Rameses II (Khufu lived more than 1000 years before the biblically named Rameses), the problem that the tribes of Yacoub had with this Pharaoh was not his building projects. The people who built Cheops (Cheops is Greek for Khufu) pyramid were buried around the pyramid and they were all Egyptians. Egyptian did not employ foreigners as slave labor for work on the pyramids. Natives of Egypt did all of the building.
However, Khufu like his predecessors in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Dynasties had a love for beautiful jewelry, copper tools and weapons of war. The makings were in the Sinai and the Negev, where the tribes were dwelling. It appears that Khufu, like the pharaohs before him, forced Yacoub’s tribe and other Semitic dwellers in the Sinai and the Negev to mine turquoise and copper. So, the Hebrews were not builders, but miners in the Egyptian controlled territories of the Sinai and Canaan, which was why no archaeologist could find them in Egypt proper. The tribe’s experience as enslaved miners was recalled in Deuteronomy 4:20:
“But you are the people whom the Lord brought out of Egypt, from the smelting furnace, and took for his own possession, as you are to this day.”
The smelting furnaces were located next to the mines so that copper could be extracted on site.
An interesting note is that Khufu’s first son, Kewab, died of mysterious causes, before he could ascend the throne. His brother, Djedfre, ascended the throne, and reigned 10 to 14 years. Khufu’s third son was Khafre, who built the 2nd pyramid at Giza. Could it be that the first son, Kewab, died because of the plague? Only Allah (swt) knows. None of the mummies are available for examination.
From the above information it is clear that the Moses of the Quran is different from the biblical Moses. The construction of biblical narratives follows a literary motif or pattern of character comparisons, parallels and reversals. For instance, the narratives regarding Jesus parallels the biblical narratives regarding Moses. In other words the gospel authors made an attempt to write the story of Jesus as an up-dated version of the story of Moses because they were attempting to prove that Jesus was the second coming of Moses. According to Acts 3:22, which references Deut 18:15-19:
“22 For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you.”
Here are a few of the parallels the gospel authors attributed to Jesus but originated in the story of Moses:
- Both Moses and Jesus were born while their people were dominated by foreign occupiers.
- Moses’ sister was Miriam and Jesus mother was Miriam. Both women were rebuked. Miriam was rebuked by Yhwh and became a leper and Jesus rebuked his mother at the Wedding feast at Cana.
- Both Pharaoh and Herod massacred Hebrew infants.
- Moses fled Egypt to escape Pharaoh’s wrath and Jesus fled into Egypt as an infant to escape Herod’s wrath. (This is a reversal)
- Moses cursed pharaoh and Jesus cursed the temple authority because they co-operated with the Roman occupiers.
- Both Moses and Jesus were miracle workers.
- Both Moses and Jesus brought a new law to the Israelites/Judeans. (Jesus brought a new covenant which altered the law).
- Both Moses and Jesus were Levites. Jesus was a Levite on his distaff side. Like Moses, Jesus’ mother came from a priestly line. Jesus’ father was from the tribe of Judah.
- Both were priests, prophets and lawgivers.
- Both did not live to see their mission accomplished. Moses never entered Canaan and Jesus never saw temple reform or the expulsion of the Romans and their collaborators, the Herodian Dynasty.
There are a lot more parallels but the above should suffice to convince everybody that biblical narratives often have a comparative structure which includes parallels and reversals. The Genesis story of Qyn and Abel appears to be a parallel and reversal narrative which is built on the story of Moses and Aaron. Moses was originally a Qynite prophet, priest and miracle worker and Aaron (Ahrown in Hebrew and Haroun in Arabic) appears to have originated as a deified, Canaanite cultural hero, Haurun. Haurun, whose title was ‘the victorious herdsman’, was a Canaanite deity that dates prior to 1900 BCE. He was brought to Egypt during the New Kingdom or between 1600 and 1100 BCE where Canaanites dedicated a temple to him, which implies he had an established priesthood. So, Haraun, is known archaeologically as a Canaanite god of herdsman. However, he may have been an ancient, historical Canaanite hero who was later deified.
As for Moses, the biblical narrative indicates that he was a Levite, a word which means to twist, to coil and refers to serpents and dragons or leviathans (the monster sea dragon in the Book of Job) in Hebrew. Yhwh was a serpent cult as I have demonstrated previously. This cult appears to have originated in the copper mines of Timna and Punon as a copper serpent was located inside the remnants of a Timna tent shrine. The Bedouin who worked these mines were known as Qynites; a word which is derived from the Egyptian word qnqn which means to flatten metal with a mallet. (Metals as copper and gold were often hammered into shape). The name Mosheh (Moses’ name in Hebrew) utimately derived from the Sumerian lexicon which was adopted into the Babylonian vocabulary. The word ‘mush’ which means ‘snake’ in Babylonian and Sumerian. The word ‘mush’ was extrapolated to mean ‘face’ as well as ‘glisten and shine’. Both words are referenced in the Bible which has Moses forging the nechushtan or copper snake (Num 21:8) as well as having a shining face (Ex 34:30).
The word mush was further extrapolated to mushshesh which means ‘to anoint’. This word came into Akkadian as masû, into Hebrew as mashach and into Arabic as masaha. According to Strong’s Hebrew & Greek Dictionary, the Hebrew name for Moses, Moshe,h means ‘draw out (of water)’. However, this interpretation seems to have evolved to match the narration of Moses being rescued from the Nile; a scene which was borrowed from the birth narrative of Sargon of Akkad. The Hebrews learned of this 7th Century BCE Assyrian story while they were in Babylon. So, the original meaning of Moses’ name was some form of Sumerian based word meaning snake, face, shine and to anoint. His profession as a metal smith or Qynite is confirmed in Num 21:8.
Prophets, priests and kings were anointed in the Ancient Near East. The Qynite cult of Yh/Yhh/Yhw/Yhwh included anointing rituals. It is in one of these rituals that the Canaanite worshipers of their deified hero, Haurun (Ahrown), were inducted into the Qynite cult of Yhwh. Haurun had been accepted into the Egyptian pantheon between the years 1600-1100 BCE. Haurun was known as the ‘victorious herdsman’ which might explain Ahrown/Aaron’s golden calf. (The word herdsman indicates that Haurun was associated with cattle and not sheep as he was not a shepherd). The bull was El’s sacred animal and this animal may also have become Haurun’s sacred animal.
In Egypt herdsmen were probably of the lowest caste. Some of Joseph’s brethren were made rulers over Pharaoh’s cattle ( Genesis 47:6 Genesis 47:17 ). (According to the Bible), (t)he Israelites were known in Egypt as “keepers of cattle;” and when they left it they took their flocks and herds with them ( Exodus 12:38 ). Both David and Saul came from “following the herd” to occupy the throne ( 1 Samuel 9 ; 11:5 ; Psalms 78:70 ). David’s herd-masters were among his chief officers of state. The daughters also of wealthy chiefs were wont to tend the flocks of the family ( Genesis 29:9 ; Exodus 2:16 ). The “chief of the herdsmen” was in the time of the monarchy an officer of high rank ( 1 Samuel 21:7 ; Compare 1 Chronicles 27:29 ). The herdsmen lived in tents ( Isaiah 38:12 ; Jeremiah 6:3 ); and there were folds for the cattle ( Numbers 32:16 ), and watch-towers for the herdsmen, that he might therefrom observe any coming danger ( Micah 4:8 ; Nahum 3:8 ).
So, the Canaanite/Egyptian deified cultural hero Ahrown/Haurun, the cattle herder, was inducted into the Qynite cult as a high priest. The cult of Haurun was very likely introduced into Edom by Bedouin merchants or suppliers who brought the cult of Haurun with them from Egypt into the mines at Timna and Punon where the miners and forgers or Qynites (meaning smiths) worked. Thus, Exodus 32:4 has Aaron forging the golden calf in the middle of a desert where there was no fuel to be found to supply a forge with enough heat to liquify metal. The original story was that Aaron hammered into shape the golden calf with which he was associated as the victorious herdsman.
So, Aaron is the original herdsman and Moses is the original metal smith or qyn (Cain). In other words, Aaron (Haurun) = Abel (Ibil or herder of camels) and Moses = Qyn (Cain) the metal smith. In the Genesis story, Qyn kills Abel or the smith kills the cattle herder. This scene describes the conflict between the Bedouin herders who depended on brush to feed their animals and the Qynites or copper miners who burned the brush to smelt copper ore. The Qynites or miners won the battle for the control of the territory surrounding the copper mines probably with the aid of the Egyptians who occupied the area and exploited the mines.
Moses was a Qynite hero who seems to have led an early revolt against the Egyptian occupiers. He appears to have fled south, deeper into Edom, accompanied by his followers, who were members of the Qynite/Midianite tribal confederation. It was at this time these revolutionaries became a tribal confederation known as Judah. Judah eventually revolted against the Edomite tribal confederation and travelled north after the Egyptians abandoned Timna. (This story is told in I & II Samuel where David revolts against Saul, an Edomite king adopted into Hebrew tribal lore.). In the north, the Judah tribal confederation founded the kingdom of Judah. Eventually, Judah was overrun by the Israelites fleeing the Assyrians and the kingdom became a vassal of Assyria. Assyria was defeated by the Babylonians who enslaved the Judeans. Babylon was defeated by the aniconic monotheist, Cyrus II, and the Judeans returned to Judah as an aniconic, monotheistic cult in which the forging and worship of idols was taboo. The Qynite lineage was erased by Hebrew narrators except for the god of the forge Qynn, who remained as a Hebrew patriarch (Gen 5:9). Qyn became a miscreant outcaste who survived and Abel became a dead hero.
The Genesis narrative of Qyn and Abel is a metaphor for the original Moses-Aaron narrative in which Moses, the Qynite, became a high priest and his brother, the cattle herder, Haurun or Aaron retained a lower status. This narrative was changed after the adoption of Persian aniconic monotheism so that Moses, the Qynite priest, rebuked his brother Ahrown, originally a cattle herder turned forger of idols, for practicing the art of the Qynites. In the Genesis narrative, Yhwh rebukes Qyn (a slave of the red earth (abd adamah in Hebrew or miner), which causes Qyn (Cain) to kill the cattle herder, Abel, whose animal offering was acceptable to Yhwh.
In the Moses narrative, Yhwh grants the status of high priest to Aaron (the cattle herder) and his descendants, while Moses (the Qynite) loses his status as high priest as well as his lineage which dies out. Moses becomes the outcaste, who is not allowed to enter Canaan while Aaron becomes the patriarch of the Levitical priesthood.
In the Genesis narrative, Abel dies before he begets sons, but he is replaced by Seth (Sheth or appointed by God in the sense of anointed by God) who takes over Abel’s role as the patriarch of herdsmen or the role with which the post Babylonian exiles or Judeans identified under Persian influence. This scenario is a retelling of the appointment of Aaron and the abandonment of Moses or the rise of the victorious herdsman (Haurun/Aaron) over the idol forging Qynite priest, Moses, who retained his status as a tribal hero and lawgiver, but, who ultimately displeased Yhwh lost his lineage and was forbidden to enjoy the fruits of his victory over Pharaoh. The Hebrews believed that the soul was in the blood, so that in order to survive death, one had to produce offspring who carried forward the soul of their patriarchs. Qyn’s lineage survived and Abel’s lineage perished with his death, so this part of the story is a reversal as Moses’ lineage perished but Aarons lineage survived.
This narrative is one of many narratives that follow a biblical pattern of literary motifs involving character comparisons, parallels and reversals to other narratives or historical events in which the Judeans were involved.