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A Karaite Reading of Exodus

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Something a little different this time. Over the past twenty or so years I've travelled extensively, meeting and talking with distant members of the family that had become lost to my immediate family. Some of them thought they were the last of the family members, having lost contact with the other familial lines a hundred years or so ago. But what was most interesting was that even with this separation we shared many of the family stories and tales. Some are anecdotal, others historical, and others even border on the mythical. But they're entertaining, informative, and they do provide insights into Karaism that I believe most of my fellow Karaites aren't even aware of. (See for more stories) These are stories that have been layered extensively until they no longer resemble the original story. They are essential pieces of history that have been concealed. I guess it's come to the time that I no longer think they should be kept under wraps. So I might as well start with the first one from the time of our beginnings. No greater man walked this earth than Moses. His influence 3000 years later can be seen amongst those practicing Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. He changed the world but do we really know who he was? Forget the rabbinic version and I'll let you in on the secrets of the Kahana family. Anan ben David would reaffirm that everything we need to know is in the Torah. It's up to us to know how to read it and find the knowledge.

The Name of Moses

The fable about Moses's name being Moshe, in Hebrew to draw out, as in to 'draw out of the water' a reminder of the baby in the basket inference of the Torah was a Rabbinic creation. In their commentaries to the Torah, they admit it freely that they knew that the word 'mehshitihu' only had the barest resemblence to the name Moshe and that an Egyptian princess would not use the Hebrew language but they refused to admit what the name really meant. It was told through the generataions in my family that his actual name was always known to us but the rabbis attempted to conceal it because they felt it reflected badly on the founder of our people, our lawgiver, and also upon the man whom the rabbis tell us was his brother, Aaron. In fact, the stories in my family say that much of the original details were purposely lost in order to provide a wholly Semitic overview of the Exodus. The accidental dropping of a word here or there from the text in order to serve a 'Holier' purpose.

Perhaps I should start at the beginning of this tale and make it clear that this story is an extension from the teaching of Anan ben David that in order to be Karaite you must make your own relationship with the Torah. And in that respect I will anticipate a tremendous amount of abuse from the Rabbanites as they will accuse me of slandering the name of our great religious founder Moses ben Amram. So be it. They will also have to explain the changes that they made to Torah in order to hide some of the details of this story if that be the case. Their sins are by far the greater. They will understand when I say that it has to do with the elevated or lowered letter 'nun' in the Torah that they added and I will also reveal why they thought it was perfectly alright to add this letter whenever and wherever they wished. This story has a special place for me because when I was a youngster in Hebrew school, my discussions of this particular point of objection led to my caning by the Rabbis. Every classroom had a wooden pointer but I don't recall ever once seeing it used to point to something on the board. But it did crash down on quite a few heads, shoulders and especially knuckles of those of us that dared to counter the rabbi's arguments. In their efforts to knock the Karaite out of me, or as they would say the 'Dybbyk', accusing me of being possessed, they only reinforced that the stories handed down to me were true and that they were aware of them and intended to deceive us all in the process. Especially those Christians that had the Bible translated from the Hebrew with all these additional letter 'nuns' in place. They would never know that the sacred text had been doctored and would pass on incorrect translations. The letter 'nun' was a pictographic representation of Moses. When spelt out the letters look like a man bent in prayer and a righteous one who is upright. The perfect man of which it is written and none have come after Moses that can even be compared to him. The Rabbinic sages say that the letter also represents faithfulness and the reward for faithfulness. Again a reference to Moses. Nun is also said to be a pictogram of a snake which when used as a final letter becomes a straight stick, again a reference to Moses with his staff that was both snake and rod and which God gave him the power to change it at will in Exodus 4:3-4. To give it special significance the Rabbinic scribes will place a special crown on the letter nun (known as the tagin) when written in the Torah to say that this is the king of all letters. Nun also represents the soul and is used to designate the Messiah, the one who will come next that is most like Moses. And numerically it represents the number 50, and even the rabbis say this is to remind us of the 50 references of the Exodus in the Torah and also the 50 days of Omer or the counting of days between the Passover and Shavuot, when Moses received the Torah. So as you can plainly see, the letter represented Moses and by placing it as an additional letter in the Torah, the Rabbis said, "we have done no wrong, we are only making a point that this is what Moses would have done, or Moses would have said." Sort of similar to initialling a contract. And when caught, as I confronted the Rabbis, they confessed that they made certain to elevate or lower the letter so it could be clearly seen that this was not part of the word but a reference to Moses. But then they would read it and translate it as if it was part of the word and that was never picked up by the rabbanite Jews they taught as students. They had a new name for me. I was no longer the student possessed by a dybbyk, I was 'Aher', the 'other', and they knew they were dealing with a Karaite that could be the bane of the existence.

So why is this letter nun so significant? Because of what the rabbis were never wishing to reveal. That the Nun was the actual name of Moses, or in its entirity he was Nunmoses. Similar to other Egyptian names you would have seen, such as Ahmoses or Thutmoses, but in this particular case Moses was named after the celestial river god, the god that spanned the heavens and fathered the other gods. The father of Ra and the one that Ra replaced in the pantheon of Egyptian gods. He was the primordial river and source of the Nile, hence it was he that would have spat out a baby in a basket into the river to be found by the princess. So when you read the words of the princess in Exodus 2:10 what she was saying was, "I called his name Nunmoses beacause I drew him from the waters of the Nile." ie. he was born of the celestial river God Nun.

The Power of a Name

For obvious reasons, the reference to his being the "Son of Nun" as an Egyptian prince had to be removed from a religion that was dedicated to monotheism. The bible still preserved the reference when Joshua became Moses's legal heir, and new leader of the Hebrew masses. He in turn became the son of Nun but this time it was in reference to Moses and not to a pagan god any longer. Since Nun was not an Ephramite name, nor a common name of any other Semites in the Exodus as seen by its absence of ever being used again for anyone else named in the Torah, it was clearly an Egyptian name and one intended for a very specific reference. Its failure to ever be used again was deliberate.

But then again, what is an Ephramite name exactly? Why are we given names sometimes and not other times in the Torah? As my family ancestors have taught, there are no oversights in the bible. Every word is chosen for a purpose and the bible is complete. There aren't riddles or hidden meanings or even absences of information. It is why it was said that the Torah is the complete word of God and there are no other words necessary. That is the fundamental difference between Karaites and the Rabbanites. The latter chose to say the Torah was incomplete and there were all these additional oral laws that Moses never bothered to write down. And only through their wisdom, foresight and guidance could these laws be preserved in the Talmud. Well, if that was the case then why did Moses say that the Torah was the complete work of God and that it requires nothing further to be added? Either the Rabbis are right and Moses was wrong, but then if that was the case the Rabbis would be defeating their own purpose because if they declare Moses as having been wrong, then who's to say he was right about the Torah in the first place. So in fact they have condemned themselves by condeming the Torah. Bottom line is that the Rabbis were wrong and their insistence on the Talmud is also wrong and they have perpetrated the enactment of their own laws and their own agenda on the people. But back to my original story.

Since the Torah is complete and everthing we have to know is already written there, then we can read Exodus 2:1 and recognize that it was written for a specific purpose. It tells us that a man from the House of Levi took a woman of the House of Levi and they had a son. There is no mention of any other son prior so we must assume this was the first son they bore and therefore the first one that was at risk because of Pharaoh's order to kill the male offspring. For those that are now questiong where was Aaron, there was no Aaron in this house. The father is not named, the mother is not named and the sister is not named. An oversight? No, this was intentional. What was more critical was that these two people were both of the House of Levi. Notice that the word House was chosen and not tribe. Remember that in ancient Egypt, Pharaoh was lord of the Great House as the word Pharaoh translates. This House of Levi was a lesser house but still an aristocratic house. Which brings us back to the name Ephraim, first presented in Genesis 51:52. Shame on the Rabbis who have given us a false translation. "Fruitful in the land of my affliction?" The word was not fruitful which is 'poireh' nor is it fruitful in the conotation of being impreganted which is 'hephrayah' which is actually closer to the Hebrew word used. The word used is completely Egyptian and is 'ephrati' which means a royal aristocrat. As an ancient word it was even adopted into the Hebrew, but the Rabbis chose to ignore this translation. The only question is why they did so? The epherates in ancient Egypt were the districts the land was divided into. Over each district there would be an Epher. In the sense he was a pharaoh but not of the Great House; more like a governor. So what Joseph was realing saying was that he named his son Ephraim, A plural of Epher, because God had made him a governor in the land of his affliction which was a true and accurate statement. As master of the horse and vizier, Joseph would have been governor over all of the districts. His children would have inherited as Ephers and governed many of the districts themselves. Which brings us back to Joshua the son of Nun the Ephramite except the first time we are introduced to him is Exodus 17:9 and it is as if he's always been with Moses and he is not referred to as the son of Nun nor as being an Ephramite. He just is Joshua in the same manner that Moses was also first introduced to us without a father or mother's name. Moses refers to the two of them as a team as he instructs "Choose for us". These are two men that have stood together, shared their thoughts, and have known each other's moves for a very long time. The next time Joshua is mentioned is in Numbers 13:16 when Moses changes his name from Hosea to Joshua. Accordingly he is referred to as Ho-shua the son of Nun with no reference to the tribe of Ephraim. It is no coincidence that in the Egyptian pantheon the god Nun raised the god Shu from the primeval abyss. Shu represented the space between heaven and earth, a link between men and God. Shu was considered the son of Nun in Egyptian mythology. Egyptian royals bearing the name of a praticular god would often name their own children according to the pantheon. Is this merely a coincidence, that Moses is Nunmoses and Joshua is Ha-Shu both bearing Egyptian god names corresponding to a father and son? Or is this telling us more about the relationship between Moses and Joshua that makes far more sense from a dynastic perspective?  Just in the same way that the Egyptian god reference had to be removed from Moses' name, so too did the reference have to be removed from Joshua's.  And Moses we are told is the one that made this alteration to Joshua's name and in all likelihood he was the one to drop Nun from his own name. 


Questions You Should Ask

Anan ben David was not opposed to questioning what was written in the Torah. In fact he encouraged it because he believed that over the centuries the Rabbis had dared to alter the sacred text rather than have the truth discovered. Truths which Anan believed would only enhance Judaism by the reader seeing human frailties and foibles. The rabbis on the other hand felt that the religious icons could not be seen with blemishes and attempted to conceal these by direct editing or instructing their followers that statements were merely metaphors that needed interpretation. Both practices were condemned by Anan and he believed that Karaites would be able to read the Torah and see the truth. We would not be deceived by the alterations and we would rejoice in the discovery of the Torah as it was origninally written. In that regard I ask you as readers the following questions just to emphasize the points made in this hub:

1. If Moses did have an Ethiopian Princess as his first wife, (See then wouldn't it have been natural that he had children by her? Since Moses was a Prince in Egypt and his wife a Princess of Ethiopia, that child would be an aristrocratic royal by birth. Wouldn't that child be an Epher in the Egyptian language?  Wouldn't that child have been a leader amongst the Israelites?

2. If Moses was the ultimate leader of the nation, then why are his children in the Torah purposely excluded from any authority of the Israelites during and after his death as it now readss,  based on the information given to us? Or is it there but cleverly concealed and Joshua is his son by his Ethiopian princess and therefore a descendant of Moses did lead the nation as would be expected?

3. If Moses was of the tribe of Levi, just like Aaron, and they were brothers, then why is the entire priesthood given to Aaron's descendants and none to those of Moses? We know from the Torah that there was a constant struggle between Moses and Aaron, was there more going on?

4. If Moses' father-in-law Jethro was the priest of Midian, then his children by Zipporah, Gershom and Eliezer would be priests on both sides and more representative of religious cult of the Israelites. Why then are neither of his children given any role in the priesthood?

5. If Moses is in charge of picking his own successor, how is it that he picks a complete unknown who only appears once in the entire book of Exodus, yet in that one appearance the impression is given that he has always been Moses' right hand man? There was obviously a familiarity there that exceeded any great doings by Joshua prior to this event.

6. Why is it that the wording in Exodus in the early chapters refer to Houses, similar to the Egyptian connotation of Houses of the aristocracy and not to tribes?  It says even the midwives were given Houses as their reward for saving the children.  Only rulers could reward people with Houses in the sense of our knighthood.  Who was this highly placed royal awarding midwives with aristocratic titles?

7. Why are the names of Moses' parents absent in Exodus II yet present in what is an obvious later addition by Levitical priests In Exodus 6:14-26? The repetition of 6:13 in 6:27 serves as a marker to not that the insertion took place between these two sentences; almost like quotation marks. The priest responsible was in a hurry to push the insertion through, giving only the generations of Reuben, Simeon and Levi and forgetting that there were at least nine other tribes that were to be brought out of Egypt as well.  What was he covering up that he felt the insertion was necessary?

8. And even as a later addition, why does this Levite editor give the name of Moses' father in Exodus 6:20 as a conjunction of two royal Egyptian names, Amose and Ramses or AmRam?

9. And if Amram was the name of Moses' father then why is he marrying his aunt Jochebed in 6:20 which was a practice more customary of the Egyptian royal house?  And how could Jochebed (Yah's Glory) be her name if worship of Yahweh hadn't been established until Moses received God's name much later? 

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10. And if Amram lived for 137 years according to Exodus 6:20, then why wasn't he present during the exodus from Egypt? His mother was and she was already much older than Amram being his aunt according to Exodus 6:20?  So what is the real purpose of Exodus 6:20 if all it does is provide misinformation?

The questions are designed only to make you realize that there was an intentional effort to cover up the true history of Moses' origins. The additions in Exodus 6 that I pointed out were meant to be seen as obvious additions, the editor wanting his sentences to be discovered and not considered part of original Torah as handed down by Moses. But he in turn raised interesting issues concerning Jochebed and Amram, giving several hints as to their identity in the process. But these will be reserved for another hub at another time.


Kahana (author) on August 20, 2012:

Thankyou Bayniah. I hope you enjoy reading the entire Exodus series of articles.

Bayniah on August 20, 2012:

So insightful, so much to say and so much complexities, yet

made so simple...May the most continue yto make you a blessing

Kahana (author) on January 10, 2011:

Ishaq, I will actually deal with some of your questions in my next hub which will be Rediscovering the Exodus 5. The Moshiach ben Yosef, would suggest that their beliefs were based upon those of the Israelite Kindom and the Edomites. Mine, as you will see in my hub on the Twin Messiahs are the Karaite beliefs which are similar. The current Rabbanite beliefs are a distortion of the original beliefs and suggest a tremendous amount of editing occurred. Fortunately the family traditions have kept the original teachings alive.

(Amir) Ishaq D. Al-Sulaimani on January 06, 2011:

Kahana, This hub (A Karaite Reading of Exodus) is not only a great lead into understanding the true Levitical Priesthood but is also a great lead into understanding the House of Joseph as well. You are amazingly correct about the name Ephraim deriving from the Egyptian Ephrati. In fact in Morocco there is strong evidence of an Ephraimite Kingdom whose first King was Abraham Ha-Ephrati. They are associated with the areas of Morocco known as Ifran. It was from the Bene-Ifran tribes that the Romans named the Continent Africa.

In this regard the word Africa can actually be traced back to Ephrati(Ephraim). After the downfall of the Ephraimite Kingdom in Morocco some members of the Ephrati families changed their name to Afriat.Interestingly amongst the Pathan-Israelites in Afghanistan the tribe of Ephraim is known as Afridi.Where can we read more about the Egyptian origins of the name Ephrati and the governing position of the Epher???? As you know some early Qaraim traditions taught of a Priestly Levitical Messiah. Do you think the Ephrati and Epher justify the teachings of a coming of a Moshiach BEN YOSEF???

Shalaam,Shalom,Salaam Wa Aleikum

Kahana (author) on December 12, 2010:

Shalom Ishaq,

Most recently one would have to classify my family as Galicz, transversing the borders of the Ukraine and Romania. But we had close relations with the relatives in Lithuania.

We had no connection to the Qedar, seeing that as a hybrid teaching influenced heavily by Islam. But at the same time, the family did originate from Mahoza before moving to eastern Europe and therefore witnessed the attempts to integrate the beliefs.

I will provide a parallel that will help explain my upbringing. Millions of people have migrated to America, but instead of seeing themselves as Americans, they will preface it with Irish American, Italian Americans, etc., and even though their children have never seen Ireland, or Italy, they still bear a bond to the land of their forefathers and in some ways defend those ancient ties before they would defend their allegiance to America. So even though I was trained by Orthodox rabbis from the time I was six years old, I was still aware of my original roots and that could not be taken from me.

Over time my family had crossed or blurred the lines on numerous occasions. In fact, one section of the family took their name Kahana Tzedek, and shortened it to KaTz. They in turn became one of the most illustrious of Rabbinic families, because it was easier to join your opposition than fight them. Sadly, that has happened all too often in my family.

(Amir) Ishaq D. Al-Sulaimani on December 12, 2010:

Kahana, You stated when you were young you were being taught by the Rabbis. However you seemed to have been raised in more of a Karaite theology or understanding. Were you from a secretly practicing Karaite family? Did your family have any affiliation with the Qedar Rite of Qaraims? Finally,Do you have ancestral background from Ukraine,Poland and or the surrounding areas?

(Amir) Ishaq D. Al-Sulaimani on December 11, 2010:

Kahana, Good Job! Excellent thought provoking questions!The real cover up is that Moses' line did inherit a Priesthood.He inherited the Priesthood of Melchi-Zadok.These were the righteous Priest Kings that were found throughout the nations. Joseph had married Asanat the daughter of the Priest of On. Asanat's father was a Priest in the Order of Melchizadok. Joseph had studied under his teachings and in turn was given authority as a Melchizadok Priest himself. Joseph was also known in Egyptian history as YUYA.(His mumified remains are in the Cairo Museum.His bones were never transported.Remember Joseph was buried as Egyptian Royalty.Can you imagine the Israelites attempting to enter the Royal Egyptian tombs to uproot his corpse while they were fleeing in haste?) Joseph(YUYA)had a grandson named Akhnaten.Akhnaten was ordained in the Order of MelchiZadok.He ruled Egypt and in the instructions of Joseph he destroyed all the images and idols in the Land of Egypt.This is all recorded in the History of Amarna. Moses was later schooled in the Order of Akhnaten(MelchiZadok). When Moses fled Egypt he found refuge with Jethro the High Priest of Midian who was also in the Order of MelchiZadok. On Mount Sinai Moses was declared the MelchiZadok of Israel. The Israelites were not to have a King like the other nations but rather they were to be ruled by a Priest King MelchiZadok)

Deuteronomy 33:4-5

'When Moses charged us with the teaching As the heritage of the Congregation of Jacob.Then he(Moses)became King in Jeshurun.'

When Moses inherited the Kingship the leadership of Israel passed from the House of Joseph(Ephraim) to the House of Levi(Moses).The Priest-Kings of MelchiZadok were to descend from Moses' son Eliezar,while the Zadokites were to descend from Moses' other son Gershom.The third faction of the Priesthood which were the ritual Temple Priests(Monks)were to descend from the line of Aaron.Therefore the descendants of Moses actually inherited 2/3 of the Priesthood.Some members of the House of Joseph did not want to relinquish power and after the departure of Moses they appointed Joshua in his place being that Joshua was a descendant of Ephraim.

The tribe of Judah was never promised the Kingship.In fact the Lion was actually the symbol of Levi and thus the word Lavi can also be used for Lion.The Judahites were actually a Priesthood of Singers and praisers and thus Judah means to praise. The Levitical Priest Kings were only associated with Judah because the Judahites continually surrounded the King's throne.This is why the Book of Samuel states that David taught the Judahites the Song of the Bow as written in the Book of Yashar.

(II SAMUEL 1:18) In this regard David was actually a descendant of Moses. However the first to claim the Kingship was Saul of Benjamin. Benjamin was the close full brother of Joseph and thus the struggle for power between the Josephites/Benjamites and the Levites/Judah

continued.When David replaced Saul the line of Moses was once again restored. The first Israelite to rebel against Solomon was Jeroboam son of Nebat an Ephraimite and thus the House of Joseph declared independence under its own kingship(I KINGS 11:26). This rivalry led to early Israelite teachings on the emergence of a Levitical Messiah and a Josephite Messiah known as Moshiach Ben Joseph. The struggle between these two

great families is an underlining theme in the story of Jesus who is in the Order of MelchiZadok which would actually make him a descendant of Moses through David.The Qaran chimes in on this by referring to Jesus as being of the Family of Amran meaning a descendant of the Families of Moses and Aaron. Jesus is then supposedly replaced by Saul(Paul)the Benjamite.

Kahana (author) on August 14, 2009:

Zvi, you're probably wondering why I approve your comments. It's because you have something of value to say and therefore something to refute. You say you're practices are close to Karaite, then you would know the first rule of Karaism, "To read the Torah and what seems good to you, then it is right. I don't refuse your right to read and believe as you wish, therefore if you were truly Karaite, you would not deny me mine. My Karaite brethren are well aware of my views. In fact we chat fairly regularly. That is our strength. Now the next thing you should know is that as Karaites, we don't believe in coincidence. Everything was and is to God's plan. If you believe in coincidence, then your thinking that your close to Karaite Judaism is mistaken.

Now, you could be right that Moses did not want an inherited leadership, yet he established one in the son's of Aaron. Visionary, hardly as the two hundred years under the judges was one of turmoil, persecutions, and infighting amongst the tribes. Read Judges if you doubt me. The chaos that resulted was only resolved with the establishment of a hereditary monarchy, first with Saul, then with David. And I can't be more specific that say in Exodus 6:20 it states that Amram lived for 137 years. For your benefit, let's just say he was an old man when he finally died. So, no it didn't occur to me that he had been killed because who would kill a 137 year old man? But you do the math and then tell me again why he wasn't present during the Exodus. And I wasn't refering to Amram's mother, I was refering to Moses' mother Jochebed who was older than Amram because in that verse it is said she's Amram's aunt.

And by the way, if you do not believe that there have been editing changes to the Torah then ask your rabbi. I'm certain he will admit that it has occurred. But the Laws of the Torah, the commands of the Torah are what Karaites believe in. The stories are just that, stories. To change the Laws and the commandments, no Karaite would dare do that. But the Rabbis would. Next time you light your sabbath candles and recite the prayers that you have been commanded to say, find where it states to do so in the Torah. I would suggest that you continue to read and in so doing perhaps it will make you realize your perception is not the only one. And credibility is only an issue when you lack tolerance and an open mind.

Zvi on August 14, 2009:

Shalom sir.

I was born Jewish and consider myself very close to Qaraite Judaism in belief and practice.

I've read your questions attentively. You read too much into things that may be coincidental, such as why `Amram wasn't around during Yesi'at Misrayim (the Exodus). Did it occur to you he may have passed away or been killed prior to that?

How didn't it occur to you that the reason Moshe's children were purposely excluded from any authority over the Israelites during and after his death might have been because Moshe wished to avoid creating an inherited leadership to suucceed him? (Just as Yehoshu`a didn't.) So maybe this was a purposeful act flowing from a nobility of spirit and astute visionary political thought?

`Amram's mother is not mentioned anywhere in the Torah as being present or alive during the Exodus. If she was alluded to elsewhere in the Tanakh as being alive or present that time, why couldn't you take the trouble to mention chapter & verse numbers? One would like to believe you'd avail the readers of them when you try to make them read the Torah critically. This is a profound failure on your part.

Here you accuse "levitical priests" of inserting an addition in Sefer Shemot ch. 6, yet in another hub you accused "Rabbis" of tampering with the Torah's text, and in yet another hub you accused `Ezra the Scribe of tampering with the Torah's text. And you have the gall to call or present yourself as a Qaraite?

I'm afraid you've got a severe credibility problem.

I call upon all Qaraite Jews NOT to disregard your writings, but to read all your hubs to discover *why* you've got little credibility if at all.

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