Finding of Moses, The
DESCRIPTION: "In Agypt's land, contaygious to the Nile, Old Pharo's daughter ... saw a smiling babby in a wad of straw ...'Tare-an-ages, girls, which o' yees owns the child?'"
AUTHOR: probably Michael J. Moran (Zozimus)
EARLIEST DATE: 1871 (Gulielmus Dubliniensis Humoriensis)
KEYWORDS: Bible humorous baby
FOUND IN: Ireland
REFERENCES (4 citations):
OLochlainn, p. 230, "The Finding of Moses" (1 fragment)
ADDITIONAL: Gulielmus Dubliniensis Humoriensis [Joseph Tully?], Memoir of the Great Original Zozimus (Michael Moran) (Dublin,1976 (reprint of the 1871 edition)), pp. 20-22, "The Finding of Moses" or "Finding of Moses in the Nile"
H. Halliday Sparling, Irish Minstrelsy (London, 1888), pp. 514, in a note to "Night Before Larry Was Stretched"
ADDITIONAL: Frank Harte _Songs of Dublin_, second edition, Ossian, 1993, pp. 26-27, "The Finding of Moses" (1 text, 1 tune)
cf. "Little Moses" (plot)
NOTES: OLochlainn: "...Zozimus, who was in life Michael Moran, born ... Dublin, about the year 1794 ... composed a notable ballad on The Finding of Moses in the Bulrushes, which begins On Egypt's plains where flows the ancient Nile, Where Ibix stalks and swims the Crockadile.... It underwent many changes ... and a number of versions are extant. A fragment of one [is presented here]."
Sparling's text, exactly as complete or incomplete as OLochlainn, is in not quite as broad a slang. Sparling also attributes it to "the celebrated blind 'Zozimus' who sang his own songs." A more complete version is Frank Harte's Songs of Dublin: Moses' mother is picked up, by coincidence, to be his nurse.
"Memoir of the Great Original Zozimus (Michael Moran)" has two versions; the first "would appear to be all his own composition" and the second "appears to have been an early effort [by Moran]." In the first, which has two verses, King Pharoah's daughter "tuk it [Moses] to Pharo', who madly wild, Said, 'You foolish girl have you got with child?"; in spite of the efforts of one of the daughter's entourage to dissuade Pharoah he says he'll "search every hole and nook" for the father "and likely I'll find him at Donnybrook." The second, rescued "from the uncertainty of tradition," is much longer (26 rhymed couplets), has no statements at all by Pharoah, and ends with a moral drawn from the life of the boy "which rescued from their bondage the Israel of God": "A conquered nation, though down-trod, it still is never crushed, A Liberator always comes when Freedom's voice is hushed; And so our own dear land, in time we all shall see The Saxon rulers gone - Old Ireland shall be free!" - BS
According to Frank Harte, Moran/Zozimus went blind at the age of two weeks, forcing him into a career in entertainment. He took his stage name from an abbot Zozimus who lived in Egypt. This Zosimus (note the variant spelling) was rather obscure, but there was also a Pope Zozimus, who was involved in the Pelagian Controversy (Chadwick, pp. 230-231. Zozimus was pontiff from 417 to the end of 418 or the beginning of 419, and seems to have been a Greek, possibly of Jewish origin; Kelly, p. 38), as well as a pagan historian Zosimus (Johnson, pp. 97, 112).
There was also a fairly well-known alchemist or mystic or something named Zosimus who may have lived around 300 C.E. -- Emsley (p. 4) calls him an alchemist, but Crosland (p. 13) declares that "It is hard to believe... that the visions related by Zosimos (c. 300 A.D.) have any direct relevance to practical chemistry. Accounts of such visions may be more practically studied by a psychologist than a chemist." But Zosimus was also one of the first to mention the Philosopher's Stone, which he called the "stone which is not a stone" (Crosland, p. 22). Charlesworth, pp. 223-228, discusses the history of the work of Zosimus, reaching few firm conclusions -- its origin may be Jewish in the first centuries of the Common Era, but it has been much elaborated. The best guess is that the version known in the Middle Ages was probably from about the sixth century. The tale came to be known in Greek, Syriac (late Aramaic), Ethiopic, and probably other languages. The book was probably rewritten at least once and probably several times, and the parts almost certainly were not all written at the same time. Although the original may have been Jewish, the redactions were probably Christian.
Moran died in 1846.
The story of Moses being abandoned by his parents (who had to hide him to prevent him from being killed) is told in Exodus 2:1-10. The picking of his mother, in the Bible, is no coincidence. His sister (presumably Miriam, but the girl is not named at this time) has followed the baby along the Nile, and when the time comes, offers to find a nurse for the baby. Naturally she chose Moses's own mother (Exodus 2:7-8). - RBW
Last updated in version 4.0
- Chadwick: Henry Chadwick, The Early Church (being volume I of The Pelican History of the Church), Pelican, 1967
- Charlesworth: James H. Charlesworth, The Psuedepigrapha and Modern Research, Septuagint and Cognate Studies, Scholars Press, 1976, reprinted with a supplement 1981
- Crosland: M. P. Crosland, Historical Studies in the Language of Chemistry, 1962, 1978 (I use the 2004 Dover reprint)
- Emsley: John Emsley, The Elements of Murder: A History of Poison, Oxford Univeristy Press, 2005
- Johnson: Paul Johnson, A History of Christianity, 1976 (I use the 2005 Borders reprint)
- Kelly: J. N. D. Kelly, The Oxford Dictionary of Popes, Oxford University Press, 1986
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