Did Moses commit homicide and escape like an ordinary thief?
Those sentences which are colored in orange are from Maharishi Dayananda Saraswati book Satyarth Prakash (The Light of Truth) and those which are colored in black are Jerry Thomas’s response.
"And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand. And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? And he said, who made thee a prince and a judge over us? Intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedest the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, surely this thing is known." (1: 11 – 14.)C. Now mark, reader. This Moses – chief prophet of the Bible, the founder of its religion – was a slave to such passions as anger, was a homicide who wanted to escape his punishment like an ordinary thief. As he concealed his crime, he must have been in the habit of telling lies. Even such a man (as Moses) met God, became a great prophet and founded the Jewish religion – a religion the reflected the character of its founder. Hence all the chief prophets of the Christians from Moses downwards were all uncivilized…and devoid of culture.
Answer: There are four arguments that I would like to present against Maharishi’s case.
First, If Maharishi can present his own definition of homicide, then by the modern definition of homicide what Moses did is not a homicide (granted that neither Maharishi’s nor the modern definition is the appropriate criteria but only the then Egyptian law).
Second, looking at the Biblical data, the “crime” or “offence” of Moses was not homicide but refusing to side with Pharaoh. This was a far greater offence in the sight of Pharaoh.
Third, Moses himself never claimed to be sinless but rather as one saved by the grace of God.
Fourth, it appears that Maharishi does not believe that a person can change though the Biblical God can transform a sinner into a saint by His grace.
First, this may not constitute a homicide in most of the democratic countries.
Legal Dictionary defines excusable or justifiable homicide in the following manner http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Homicide:
“A person is authorized to kill another person in self-defense or in the defense of others, but only if the person reasonably believes that the killing is absolutely necessary in order to prevent serious harm or death to himself or herself or to others. If the threatened harm can be avoided with reasonable safety, some states require the person to retreat before using Deadly Force. Most states do not require retreat if the individual is attacked or threatened in his or her home, place of employment, or place of business. In addition, some states do not require a person to retreat unless that person in some way provoked the threat of harm.”
An example of a democratic country where Moses would not have been charged of homicide is UK.
In the Homicide Act, 1957 of United Kingdom, a murder committed as a result of provocation is not treated as homicide.
It says the following (http://www.statutelaw.gov.uk/content.aspx?activeTextDocId=1115608):
“Provocation. Where on a charge of murder there is evidence on which the jury can find that the person charged was provoked (whether by things done or by things said or by both together) to lose his self-control, the question whether the provocation was enough to make a reasonable man do as he did shall be left to be determined by the jury; and in determining that question the jury shall take into account everything both done and said according to the effect which, in their opinion, it would have on a reasonable man.”
What constitutes a provocation?
– A grossly insulting assault
– Witnessing an attack on a relative
– Witnessing an Englishman being unlawfully deprived of his liberty
– A husband discovering his wife in the act of adultery; and – A father discovering someone committing sodomy on his son (per Holmes v DPP (1946) AC 588).
This is stated not to justify what Prophet Moses did. But only to show that if Maharishi can call this as homicide by using his own definitions, then it can be also shown as not homicide by using legally acceptable definitions.
One valid way of evaluating this act would have been to examine the laws of Egypt at that time particularly the rights of a prince since Moses was a prince of Egypt while committing this.
Secondly, looking at the evidence of the Holy Bible, the reason for Moses fleeing Egypt was not the fear of being implicated in a crime. If at all this constituted a crime under the Egyptian law, then Pharaoh would have pardoned Moses provided Moses was ready to be on the side of Pharaoh than on the side of Israelites.
In Pharaoh’s sight, refusing to side with Pharaoh would have been an offence. This was a serious “offence” because Pharaoh had tried his best to stop any opposition from Israelites by legislating homicide of Jewish male children.
Exodus 1: 9-12 And he said to his people, "Look, the people of the children of Israel [are] more and mightier than we; come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and it happen, in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us, and [so] go up out of the land." Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh supply cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were in dread of the children of Israel.
But now Pharaoh’s own adopted prince starts an opposition.
Hebrews 11: 24-27 By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.
By the murder of the Egyptian, Moses knew that his opposition against Egyptians and support for Israelites had become known.
There were at least three options before Moses: (a) Make a compromise with Pharaoh and do not support Israelites (c) Start a open revolt against Pharaoh which would have been foolish as even the Israelites did not support him (c) Flee from Egypt without making a compromise with Pharaoh which may invite Pharaoh’s wrath but Moses’ stand would be very clear.
Moses wisely and bravely chose the third option and the Holy Bible itself explains it thus. An ordinary thief or a murderer would have chosen option 1.
Hebrews 11: 27 – By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.
Thirdly, neither Prophet Moses nor Christians ever claimed that Prophet Moses is a sinless person.
Psalms 90:8-9 “You have set our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your countenance. For all our days have passed away in Your wrath; We finish our years like a sigh.”
Fourth, unlike the Vedas, the Holy Bible clearly teaches that there is a hope for even the worst sinners.
Isaiah 1:15-18 “When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rebukes the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.”
This message seems to be truly missing in Maharishi’s Vedic religion and that might have been the real reason for his opposition.