Who was Noah's brother
Noah and Moses' ark
Geraldine Mc Caughrean takes us on an ark like we've never seen before. This is not Noah's Ark from the picture book. The animals have sores on their feet. They stink. The lions smell the antelopes. You are trembling with hunger. The mice reproduce like mad. Starving, dying birds fly on deck with the last of their strength. Grasshoppers, driven by the frenzy of food, attack the carcasses.
Noah and his family are cruel. They beat desperate people who cling to the ark. You watch with icy eyes as castaways drown: men, women, children. Because they are chosen. God knows what he's doing.
The sons of Noah are: It says Shem, Ham and Jafet in the Old Testament. A daughter is not mentioned. Geraldine Mc Caughren gives Noah a daughter, Timna. Most of the story is told from the perspective of the daughter Timna. Timna cannot bear the brutality of her older brothers, the arrogance of her wives, the self-righteousness of her father Noah. He told her that everyone outside the ark was godless demons. She does not understand why the older brothers shoot arrows at a fishing boat with friendly people who have offered them milk and fruit. Because the family on the ark is sick, their teeth are falling out, they have diarrhea. No demon may be brought on board the ark.
All floating debris tends to accumulate in eddies of water, so that everything drowned huddles together into large clumps of restless death. Legs that intersect with arms, horns, wings and tent poles - all close together, mouth to ear.
But in this horror scenario there is a spark of hope, a trace of love and pity: Together with her younger brother Jafet, Timna saves a little boy and his sister, who is still a baby. Let the children hide on the ark between the animals. When the stowaways are discovered, the father's vengeance is cruel.
Geraldine Mc Caughrean's gripping novel is called "Not the End of the World", but it is a book of the apocalypse, a novel about delusion and self-importance, about the cruelty of people who consider themselves chosen. It must have been like that on the ark - no doubt about it. Geraldine Mc Caughrean cleans up once and for all the sweetish image of peaceful animals clambering up the ark in rows of two. And with the image of the good people chosen by God too. Critical children, who have always doubted that the fox and the hare, the llama and the lion could live together peacefully on the ark and who have always found it cruel that Noah's family stood idly by watching friends and neighbors sink into the waters around them , will thank her for it.
Frederik Hetmann, biographer of Che Guevara, Rosa Luxemburg, Karl May and Walter Benjamin has written a book about the Old Testament Moses. For him, Moses is one of the great liberating figures of mankind in general. In the first part of his book, Hetmann recounts the story of Moses as it is passed down in the Bible. He also goes into the different interpretations of the figure of Moses. According to Freud, Moses must have come from a noble Egyptian family and raised by a lowly one.
According to Freud, this pattern serves to explain why the person in question later becomes so powerful, influential, successful, why he later attains greatness and fame despite all the strokes of fate and hindrances.
Hetmann goes into one of the most haunting, but also one of the most difficult to understand passages in the Bible: the story of the burning bush:
In such conditions, as the Old Testament variously describes, God reveals himself to people. During this extraordinary state, something happens that does not happen every day - and in some lives never at all. Man and God meet one another. The habit has developed of calling sacred the dimensions of the time and place in which this occurs.
Moses sees a thorn bush in the desert that burns but does not burn. It is from this bush that God speaks to Moses. He gives him the task of leading the Hebrews out of Egypt to the promised land. Pharaoh does not want to let her go and God sends him plagues. Frederik Hetmann goes on a search for clues. Recent research makes these plagues a historical core:
An unusually high water level turns the sluggishly flowing Nile into a torrent that carries the crimson earth of the mountain slopes with it. The tidal wave takes frogs with it. Hailstorms devastate the country. Grasshoppers attack the fields, probably attracted by the many frog carcasses. Sandstorms darken the sun, an epidemic sweeps the children away. When the Hebrews are finally allowed to set off, an army of the Pharaoh pursues them. They flee through a lake. We do not know whether the warriors of Pharaoh with their heavy chariots sank into the mud and sunk or whether a great tsunami has hit them. But there are two possible explanations for how the Hebrews got to the other shore of the lake dry-footed, but the Egyptians drowned.
In the second part of his "Moses", Frederik Hetmann summarizes what is known about the genesis of the Moses story. Is Moses even a historical figure? If so, did he live in Akhenaten's time, the pharaoh who was the first to be a monotheist? Is that how he got around to praying to one God? Or was he a contemporary of Ramses II, the great builder and warrior? When was what written?
The third part is the most exciting. The historical and biblical exegetical excursions in the first and second part are the basis for this. Now we get to know a Moses as Frederik Hetmann imagines. Now we are reading the story of Moses as it could have been. Hetmann lets them tell of Shaphan, a lowly Hebrew scribe. Shaphan wants nothing but the truth to bring to papyrus:
Whoever tries to the best of his knowledge and belief in our earthly time to approach the divine truth and avoids the lie, produces at least a glimpse of that coming about of perfect truth, which will be revealed at the end of human history.
Moses is a child of the pharaoh Hatshepsut. And with this, Hetmann is closely following Freud's interpretation, according to which Moses must be from a noble family. Hatshepsut is murdered while Moses is on the African coast. When he returns, his life is also in danger. He is thrown in jail. In deep despair he prays to the god Yhwh the Hebrews, the god of his nurse:
If you were deprived of all help and hope, there had to be someone who might give you hope.
And the God of the Hebrews helps him. Moses manages to escape. He's going to the desert. He is climbing a mountain. It's hot, scorching hot. He passes out. Then he heard the voice of Yhwh, commanding him to lead the Hebrews into the land where milk and honey flow. Moses is on his way. Sometimes he quarrels with God that he is not the right person for this great task, because he has sinned, he has even murdered. But he will do God's will.
Frederik Hetmann's Moses book is great reading for all those who are interested in history, in the history of religion, in the figure of the great Moses. Needless to say, his book isn't just written for teenagers.
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