It has been maintained with good reason that the later history of Israel could not be understood if this were not admitted. Science to-day has become much more cautious and deals much more leniently with tradition than it did in the early days of historical investigation.
What first attracts our interest in the person of Moses is his name, which is written Mosche in Hebrew. One may well ask: Where does it come from ? What does it mean ? As is well known, the story in Exodus, Chapter ii, already answers this question. There we learn that the Egyptian princess who saved the babe from the waters of the Nile gave him his name, adding the etymological explanation: because I drew him out of the water. But this explanation is obviously inadequate.
” The biblical interpretation of the name ‘He that was drawn out of the water’ ” thus an author of the Judisches Lexikon1 “is folk etymology; the active Hebrew form itself of the name (Mosche can at best mean only ‘ the drawer out’ ) cannot be reconciled with this solution.” This argument can be supported by two further reflections: first, that it is nonsensical to credit an Egyptian princess with a knowledge of Hebrew etymology, and, secondly, that the water from which the child was drawn was most probably not the water of the Nile.
1Judisches Lexikon, founded by Herlitz und Kirschner, Bd. IV, 1930, Judischer Verlag, Berlin.