Our Wicker Moses Baskets have been selling particularly well recently, which has kindled my curiosity as to the history of these wonderful baskets. Many people are familiar with the “myth” of the baby Moses who was hidden in rushes on the bank of the River Nile. According to the legend the Egyptian Pharaoh, fearing that the Hebrews were getting too powerful, commanded that all Israelite baby boys to be drowned in the river. Moses’s mother Jochebed naturally thought this was a very bad idea and concealed him for three months in a watertight wooden chest. She feared for his imminent discovery and Jochebed placed the baby in a wicker basket and floated him down the Nile.
The Pharaoh’s daughter happened to be bathing in the river as he was drifting by. Being a compassionate sort, she decided not only to rescue him but also adopt him. Apparently Miriam the sister of Moses on hearing of this suggested to the Pharaoh’s daughter that he be nursed by none other than Jochebed in the Pharaoh’s palace. Consequently Moses not only escaped the Pharaoh’s cruelty, but was brought up in the Hebrew Tradition by his natural mother.
What a great narrative! Though some archaeologists claim that the story has some basis in fact, it may be based on the strikingly similar story of Sargon a legendary of Akkadian King. Fragments of text found in the mid-19th century describe the young King Sargon as the illegitimate son of a high priestess and went as follows:
“My mother was a high priestess, my father I knew not. The brothers of my father loved the hills. My city is Azupiranu, which is situated on the banks of the Euphrates. My high priestess mother conceived me, in secret she bore me. She set me in a basket of rushes, with bitumen she sealed my lid. She cast me into the river which rose over me. The river bore me up and carried me to Akki, the drawer of water. Akki, the drawer of water, took me as his son and reared me. Akki, the drawer of water, appointed me as his gardener. While I was a gardener, Ishtar granted me her love, and for four and … years I exercised kingship.”
Though the texts are from the 7th to 8th century BC the legend dates from much earlier perhaps 2334 BC.
Another almost identical legend comes from the Mahabharata Hindu texts. It relates how the adolescent virgin, Pritha was impregnated by the sun god Sura. In shame Pritha placed the infant in a basket sealed by bees wax. The basket floated down the rivers Charmanavati, and Yamuna before reaching the Ganges. The basket was found by a charioteers wife. Husband and wife adopted the infant and raise him as their own son. This child was Karna who went on to become one of the foremost warriors in the Mahabharata. It has been noted by Scholars that the Moses, Sargon and Karna stories are similar to infant exposures in European and Asian legend.
While we do not recommend floating your infant down a river or leaving him or her on a mountain top, we can assure parents that their child will be safe and snug in one of our stylish, eco-friendly, Palm Moses Baskets.