Did Pharaoh of Moses time consider himself to be God and asked people to worship him?

Reference: https://history.stackexchange.com/questions/66742/was-there-any-egyptian-pharaoh-that-was-considered-the-one-and-only-god-that-anc

Finally what did Moses do eliminate the Pharaoh?

2 Answers 2


Did Pharaoh of Moses time consider himself to be God and asked people to worship him?

Many sources point to the fact that he created an image whereby he made himself look like a god.

For example, note the Midrash Tanchuma, Bereishis 7:

בּוֹא וּרְאֵה, כָּל מִי שֶׁבִּקֵּשׁ לַעֲשׂוֹת עַצְמוֹ אֱלוֹהַּ, בּוֹנֶה לוֹ פַלְטְרִין בְּתוֹךְ הַמָּיִם. פַּרְעֹה בָּנָה לוֹ פַלְטְרִין בְּתוֹךְ הַמַּיִם וְסָתַם מֵי נִילוּס שֶׁלֹּא יֵרְדוּ לְתוֹךְ הַיָּם, וְהָיוּ הַמַּיִם מִתְגַּבְּרִין וְתוֹלִין הַפַּלְטְרִין וְהִגְבִּיהוּ אוֹתוֹ וּנְשָׂאוּהוּ לְמַעְלָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: דַּבֵּר וְאָמַרְתָּ כֹּה אָמַר אֲדֹנָי אֱלֹקִים הִנְנִי עָלֶיךָ פַּרְעֹה מֶלֶךְ מִצְרַיִם הַתַּנִּים הַגָּדוֹל וְגוֹ' (יחזקאל כט, ג). אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, רָשָׁע, נִתְגָּאִיתָ בַּמַּיִם, בַּמַּיִם אַתָּה מֵת, דִּכְתִיב: וְנִעֵר פַּרְעֹה וְחֵילוֹ וְגוֹ' (תהלים קלו, טו).

Observe that everyone who desired to be worshipped as a divine being constructed a palace for himself in the midst of the sea. Pharaoh erected a palace in the midst of the water and dammed up the water of the Nile to keep it from flowing into the Mediterranean. However, the water rose, undermined the foundations of the palace, lifted it up, and bore it away, as it is said: Speak, and say: “Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh, king of Egypt, the great crocodile that lieth in the midst of his rivers, that hath said: My river is my own” (Exod. 29:3). The Holy One, blessed be He, rebuked him: O wicked one, you were proud upon the waters; through the waters you shall perish, as it is written: But overthrew Pharaoh and his hosts in the Red Sea (Ps. 136:15).

Also refer to Tosafos, Masechta Shabbos 75a s.v. Amgusha - which notes one view that Pharaoh would practise his sorcery and blaspheme, saying: "שהיה אומר לי יאורי ואני עשיתני" - "The river is mine. I made the river."

This is one of the reasons why the Nile was hit with blood in the first plague to show how Pharaoh really had zero control over it.

Moreover, as part of this ruse he cultivated the image that he never had to relieve himself, after all, a so-called god does not need to go to the bathroom. Precisely for this reason there are several occasions where he is publicly embarrassed and thereby proven that he is anything but a god.

In the Midrash Tanchuma Vaera 14 it specifically relates this point:

וַיֹּאמֶר ה' אֶל מֹשֶׁה הַשְׁכֵּם בַּבֹּקֶר וְהִתְיַצֵּב לִפְנֵי פַרְעֹה הִנֵּה יוֹצֵא הַמָּיְמָה (שמות ח, טז). לָמָּה הָיָה יוֹצֵא הַמָּיְמָה? לְפִי שֶׁהָיָה אוֹתוֹ רָשָׁע מִשְׁתַּבֵּחַ וְאוֹמֵר שֶׁהוּא אֱלוֹהַּ וְאֵינוֹ יוֹצֵא לִנְקָבָיו, לְפִיכָךְ הָיָה יוֹצֵא הַמַּיְמָה בְּהַשְׁכָּמָה, שֶׁלֹּא יִרְאוּהוּ בְּנֵי אָדָם שֶׁעוֹמֵד בְּקָלוֹן. לְכָךְ אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמֹשֶׁה: עֲמֹד בְּהַשְׁכָּמָה בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁהוּא נִצְרָךְ, תְּפֹשׂ אוֹתוֹ וֶאֱמֹר לוֹ: כֹּה אָמַר ה' כִּי בַּפַּעַם הַזֹּאת אֲנִי שֹׁלֵחַ אֶת כָּל מַגֵּפֹתַי..

And the Lord said unto Moses: “Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh from the water” (Exod. 8:16). Why did Pharaoh go to the waters early in the morning? Because the wicked one boasted that since he was a god, he had no need to go to the water to relieve himself. Therefore he went out early in the morning so that no one would see him performing a demeaning act. That is why the Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moses: Rise up early in the morning, when he must (go out), and say unto him: Thus saith the Lord, the God of the Hebrews … for I will this time send all My plagues upon thy person, etc. (Exod. 9:14).

(Similarly see Shemos Rabbah 9:8)

As far as your second question:

what did Moses do eliminate the Pharaoh?

There is a dispute as to whether Pharaoh actually died. This has already been discussed here


The following is from Gods & Myths of Ancient Egypt by Lucia Gahlin: In ancient Egypt, starting from the Old Kingdom (c. 2686-c.2181 BCE), the Pharaohs were identified with divinity. Two names given Hor and Hor Nebw would be given to all Pharaohs, a clear indication they were considered part of the divine.

In the New Kingdom (c.1505-c.1069 BCE), rules claimed to be the children of Amun. It seems that during the period of the Exodus, Egypt was in the middle of a long decline in how divine they view their leaders. It seems it was never dropped that they are divine, but the human side to their nature stood out more.

Following this, there seems to be a turn in the leadership. Akhenaten (c.1352-c.1336 BCE, see Akhenaten's New Religion) elevated himself and his family to the status of a divine royal family, whose members were worshipped at shrines throughout the city of Achetaten. Ramesses II (c.1279-c.1213 BCE) had a cult worshipping him and all the statues of himself he put throughout the land.

So yes, there's no reason to doubt that Pharaoh of the Exodus believed he was a diety (although this was clearly a shallow belief, given the midrash brought in Dov's answer that he would hide the fact that he needed to relieve himself from the people). This point is very relevant to the story and is mentioned in many places in our tradition.

What did Moshe do to eliminate Pharaoh? I think the answer is very simple: he listened to Hashem in all that Hashem told him to do:

וַיַּעַשׂ מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה ה' אֹתָם כֵּן עָשׂוּ׃

And Moshe and Aharon did as Hashem commanded them, so they did (Shemot 7:6)

Hashem is the one who eliminated Pharaoh, and that is the theme of the recounting of the Exodus in our tradition. Moshe's role was to be Hashem's mouth piece and actor in obeying Hashem's instructions, all of which would eventually lead to the elimination of Pharoah, and all his power, and all his false gods and beliefs. May I recommend Let My Nation Go by Yosef Deutsch that brings the midrashim together in a long detailed recounting, that thoroughly explains this point. Tit for tat, Hashem disarms every claim to divinty that Pharaoh had. See this shiur for a good explanation.

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