Remember the biblical story of Moses parting the sea?
Supposedly this biblical parting of waters happened between 1450 BC and 1250 BC. A refresher ...
Exodus Moses held out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind. It blew all night and turned the sea into dry land. The water was divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on both sides.
But Moes wasn't the only one who parted a body of water. An Egyptian fairy tale from about 1500 BC tells the story of a magician parting the waters of a lake. The tale is preserved on the Westcar Papyrus, which is housed in the
The similarity between Moses and the magician may be a mere coincidence. Then again, the Hebrews may have borrowed elements from the Egyptian tale. It goes as follows:
The Green Jewel
King Khufu sat to hear tales regarding the wonders of other days and the doings of magicians. So the Prince Khafra stood before him and related an ancient story.
One day, King Sneferu was disconsolate and weary, wandering about the palace with desire to be cheered, nor was there aught to take the gloom from his mind. He caused his chief scribe, Djadja-em-ankh, to be brought before him, and said: "I would fain have entertainment, but cannot find any in this place.”
The scribe said: "Your Majesty should go boating on the lake, and let the rowers be the prettiest girls in your harem. It will delight your heart to see them splashing the water where the birds dive and to gaze upon the green shores and the flowers and trees. I myself will go with you.”
The king consented, and twenty virgins who were fair to behold went into the boat, and they rowed with oars of ebony which were decorated with gold. His Majesty took pleasure in the outing, and the gloom passed from his heart as the boat went hither and thither, and the girls sang together with sweet voices.
It chanced, as they were turning round, an oar handle brushed against the hair of the girl who was steering, and shook from it a green jewel, which fell into the water. She lifted up her oar and stopped singing, and the others grew silent and ceased rowing. Said Sneferu: "Do not pause; let us go on still farther.”
The girls said: "She who steers has lifted her oar.”
Said Sneferu to her: "Why have you lifted your oar?”
Alas, I have lost my green jewel,” she said. “It has fallen into the lake.”
Sneferu said: "I will give you another; let us go on.”
The girl pouted and made answer: "I would rather have my own green jewel again than any other.”
His Majesty said to the chief scribe: "I am given great enjoyment by this novelty; indeed my mind is much refreshed as the girls row me up and down the lake. Now one of them has lost her green jewel, which has dropped into the water, and she wants it back again and will not have another to replace it.”
The chief scribe at once muttered a spell. Then by reason of his magic words the waters of the lake were divided like a lane. He went down and found the green jewel which the girl had lost, and came back with it to her. When he did that, he again uttered words of power, and the waters came together as they were before.
The king was well pleased, and when he had full enjoyment with the rowing upon the lake he returned to the palace. He gave gifts to the chief scribe, and everyone wondered at the marvel which he had accomplished.
Such was Khafra’s tale of the green jewel, and King Khufu commanded that offerings should be laid in the tombs of Sneferu and his chief scribe, who was a great magician.
Recap: A part of the fairy tale is like the story of Moses making a lane in the sea. The people walked down into the lane and through to the other side, then Moses made the water come together again. The Egyptian magician did it, too. Did the story of Moses get the idea from the fairy tale?