Moses and Monotheism-Full Text Part 2

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HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 107 

take into consideration this motive of the Priestly 
Code it is hard not to believe that it was really 
Moses who gave his Jews the monotheistic idea. 
We should find it the easier to give assent to this 
since we are able to say from where the idea 
came to Moses something which the Jewish 
priesthood had certainly forgotten. 

Here, someone might ask, what do we gain by 
deriving Jewish monotheism from the Egyptians ? 
The problem has thus only been put back a step; 
we know no more about the genesis of the mono- 
theistic idea. The answer is that it is not a 
question of gain, but of research. And perhaps 
we shall learn something by elucidating the real 
process. 

2. Latency Period and Tradition 

I thus believe that the idea of an Only God, as 
well as the emphasis laid on ethical demands in 
the name of that God and the rejection of all 
magic ceremonial, were indeed Mosaic doctrines, 
which at first found no hearing but came into 
their own after a long space of time and finally 
prevailed. How is such a delayed effect to be 
explained and where do we meet with similar 
phenomena ? 

Our next reflection tells us that they are often 
met with in very different spheres and that they 
probably come about in various ways which are 

IO8 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

more or less easy to understand. Let us take for 
an example the fate of any new scientific theory, 
for instance, the Darwinian doctrine of evolution. 
At first it meets with hostile rejection and is 
violently debated for decades; it takes only one 
generation, however, before it is recognized as 
a great step towards truth. Darwin himself was 
accorded the honour of burial in Westminster 
Abbey. Such a case provides no enigma. The 
new truth had awakened affective resistances. 
These could be sustained by arguments that 
opposed the evidence in support of the unpleasant 
doctrine. The contest of opinions lasted a certain 
time. From the very beginning there were both 
adherents and opponents, but the number as 
well as the importance of the former steadily 
increased until at last they gained the upper 
hand. During the whole time of the conflict no 
one forgot what was the matter at issue. We are 
hardly surprised to find that the whole process 
took a considerable time; probably we do not 
adequately appreciate the fact that we have here 
to do with a manifestation of mass psychology. 
There is no difficulty in finding a full analogy to 
it in the mental life of an individual. In such a 
case a person would hear of something new which, 
on the ground of certain evidence, he is asked to 
accept as true; yet it contradicts many of his 
wishes and offends some of his highly treasured 
convictions. He will then hesitate, look for 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION IOQ 

arguments to cast doubt on the new material, 
and so will struggle for a while until at last he 
admits it himself: " all this is true after all, 
although I find it hard to accept and it is painful 
to have to believe in it." All we learn from this 
process is that it needs time for the intellectual 
work of the Ego to overcome objections that are 
invested by strong feelings. This case, however, 
is not very similar to the one we are trying to 
elucidate. 

The next example we turn to seems to have 
still less in common with our problem. It may 
happen that someone gets away from, apparently 
unharmed, the spot where he has suffered a 
shocking accident, for instance a train collision. 
In the course of the following weeks, however, 
he develops a series of grave psychical and motor 
symptoms, which one can ascribe only to his 
shock or whatever else happened at the time of 
the accident. He has developed a " traumatic 
neurosis. 55 This appears quite incomprehensible 
and is therefore a novel fact. The time that 
elapsed between the accident and the first appear- 
ance of the symptoms is called the " incubation 
period," a transparent allusion to the pathology 
of infectious disease. As an afterthought we 
observe that in spite of the fundamental differ- 
ence in the two cases, the problem of the trau- 
matic neurosis and that of Jewish Monotheism 
there is a correspondence in one point. It is 

IIO MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

the feature which one might term latency. There 
are the best grounds for thinking that in the 
history of the Jewish religion there is a long 
period after the breaking away from the Moses 
religion during which no trace is to be found 
of the monotheistic idea, the condemnation of 
ceremonial and the emphasis on the ethical side. 
Thus we are prepared for the possibility that the 
solution of our problem is to be sought in a 
special psychological situation. 

I have more than once traced the events in 
Qades when the two components of the later 
Jewish people combined in the acceptance of a 
new religion. With those who had been in 
Egypt the memory of the Exodus and of the 
figure of Moses was still so strong and vivid that 
it insisted on being incorporated into any account 
of their early history. There might have been 
among them grandsons of persons who themselves 
had known Moses, and some of them still felt 
themselves to be Egyptians and bore Egyptian 
names. They had good reasons, however, for 
" repressing " the memory of the fate that had 
befallen their leader and law-giver. For the 
other component of the tribe the leading motive 
was to glorify the new God and deny his foreign - 
ness. Both parties were equally concerned to 
deny that there had been an earlier religion and 
especially what it contained. This is how the 
first compromise came about, which probably 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION I I I 

was soon codified in writing; the people from 
Egypt had brought with them the art of writing 
and the fondness for writing history. A long 
time was to elapse, however, before historians 
came to develop an ideal of objective truth. At 
first they shaped their accounts according to 
their needs and tendencies of the moment, with 
an easy conscience, as if they had not yet under- 
stood what falsification signified. In consequence, 
a difference began to develop between the 
written version and the oral report, i.e. the 
tradition, of the same subject-matter. What has 
been deleted or altered in the written version 
might quite well have been preserved uninjured 
in the tradition. Tradition was the complement 
and at the same time the contradiction of the 
written history. It was less subject to distorting 
influences perhaps in part entirely free of them 
and therefore might be more truthful than the 
account set down in writing. Its trustworthiness, 
however, was impaired by being vaguer and more 
fluid than the written text, being exposed to many 
changes and distortions as it was passed on from 
one generation to the other by word of mouth. 
Such a tradition may have different outcomes. 
The most likely event would be for it to be 
vanquished by the written version, ousted by it, 
until it grows more and more shadowy and at last 
is forgotten. Another fate might be that the 
tradition itself ends by becoming a written 

112 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

version. There are other possibilities which will 
be mentioned later. 

The phenomenon of the latency period in the 
history of the Jewish religion may find its explana- 
tion in this : the facts which the so-called official 
written history purposely tried to suppress were 
in reality never lost. The knowledge of them 
survived in traditions which were kept alive 
among the people. According to E. Sellin, there 
even existed a tradition concerning the end of 
Moses which contradicted outright the official 
account and came far nearer to the truth. The 
same thing, we may suppose, happened with 
other beliefs that had apparently found an end 
at the same time as Moses, doctrines of the 
Mosaic religion that had been unacceptable to 
the majority of Moses 5 contemporaries. 

Here we meet with a remarkable fact. It is 
that these traditions instead of growing weaker 
as time went on grew more and more powerful 
in the course of centuries, found their way into 
the later codifications of the official accounts, and 
at last proved themselves strong enough decisively 
to influence the thought and activity of the 
people. What the conditions were that made 
such a development possible seems, however, far 
from evident. 

This fact is indeed strange, so much so that 
we feel justified in examining it afresh. Within 
it our problem lies. The Jewish people had 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 113 

abandoned the Aton religion which Moses had 
given them and had turned to the worship of 
another god who differed little from the Baalim 
of the neighbouring tribes. All the efforts of 
later distorting influences failed to hide this 
humiliating fact. Yet the religion of Moses did 
not disappear without leaving any trace; a kind 
of memory of it had survived, a tradition perhaps 
obscured and distorted. It was this tradition of 
a great past that continued to. work in the back- 
ground, until it slowly gained more and more 
power over the mind of the people and at last 
succeeded in transforming the God Jahve into 
the Mosaic God and in waking to a new life the 
religion Moses had instituted centuries ago and 
which had later been forsaken. That a dormant 
tradition should exert such a powerful influence 
on the spiritual life of a people is not a familiar 
conception. There we find ourselves in a domain 
of mass psychology where we do not feel at home. 
We must look around for analogies, for facts of 
a similar nature even if in other disciplines. We 
shall find them, I am sure. 

When the time was ripening for a return of the 
religion of Moses, the Greek people possessed an 
exceptionally rich treasure of legends and myths 
of heroes. It is believed that the ninth or eighth 
century B.C. saw the creation of the Homeric 
epics which derived their material from this 
complex of myths. With our psychological 

H 

114 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

knowledge of to-day we could long before 
Schliemann and Evans have put the question: 
whence did the Greeks obtain all this material 
of myths and legends which Homer and the great 
Attic dramatists transformed into immortal works 
of art ? The answer would have had to be : this 
people probably passed in its early history through 
a period of outward splendour and highly 
developed culture which ended in catastrophe 
as, indeed, history tells and of which a faint 
tradition lived on in these legends. Archaeo- 
logical research of our days has confirmed this 
suggestion, which if made earlier would surely 
have been considered too bold. It has discovered 
the evidence of the grandiose Minoan -Mycenaean 
culture which had probably already come to 
an end on the Greek mainland by 1250 B.C. 
The Greek historians of a later period hardly 
ever refer to it. There is the remark that there 
was a time when the Cretans ruled the sea, a 
mention of the name of King Minos and his 
palace, and of the labyrinth; but that is all. 
Nothing remained of that great time but the 
traditions seized upon by the great writers. 

Other peoples also possess such folk-epics, for 
example, the Indians, Finns and Germans. It 
is for the literary historian to investigate whether 
the same conditions as with the Greeks applied 
there as well. I think that such an investigation 
would yield a positive result. The conditions we 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 115 

have specified for the origin of folk-epics are as 
follows : there exists a period of early history that 
immediately afterwards is regarded as eventful, 
significant, grandiose and perhaps always heroic; 
yet it happened so long ago and belonged to times 
so remote that later generations receive intelli- 
gence of it only as an obscure and incomplete 
tradition. Surprise has been expressed that the 
epic as a literary form should have disappeared 
in later times. The explanation may be that the 
conditions for the production of epics no longer 
exist. The old material has been used up and so 
far as later events are concerned history has taken 
the place of tradition. The bravest heroic deeds 
of our days are no longer able to inspire an epic ; 
Alexander the Great himself had grounds for his 
complaint that he would have no Homer to 
celebrate his life. 

Remote times have a great attraction some- 
times mysteriously so for the imagination. As 
often as mankind is dissatisfied with its present 
and that happens often enough it harks back 
to the past and hopes at last to win belief in the 
never -for gotten dream of a Golden Age. 1 Prob- 
ably man still stands under the magic spell of 
his childhood, which a not unbiassed memory 

1 Such a situation forms the basis of Macaulay's " Lays of 
Ancient Rome." He assumes the part of a minstrel who, sadly 
disappointed with the violent contests of the political parties of 
his time, contrasts them with the unity and patriotism of their 
forbears. 

Il6 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

presents to him as a time of unalloyed bliss. 
Incomplete and dim memories of the*past, which 
we call tradition, are a great incentive to the 
artist, for he is free to fill in the gaps in the 
memories according to the behests of his imagina- 
tion and to form after his own purpose the image 
of the time he has undertaken to reproduce. 
One might almost say that the more shadowy 
tradition has become the more meet is it for the 
poet's use. The value tradition has for poetry, 
therefore, need not surprise us, and the analogy 
we have found of the dependence of epic poetry 
on precise conditions will make us more inclined 
to accept the strange suggestion that with the 
Jews it was the tradition of Moses which turned 
the Jahve worship in the direction of the old 
Mosaic religion. The two cases, however, are 
very different in other respects. In the one the 
result is poetry, in the other a religion, and we 
have assumed that the latter under the stimulus 
of a tradition was reproduced with a faithfulness 
for which, of course, the epic cannot provide a 
parallel. Enough remains, therefore, of our 
problem to encourage a search for better analogies. 

3. The Analogy 

The only really satisfactory analogy to the 
remarkable process which we have recognized in 
the history of Jewish religion is to be found in a 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 1 17 

domain apparently remote from our problem. It 
is, however, very complete, approximating to 
identity. Here again we find the phenomenon 
of latency, the appearance of inexplicable 
manifestations which call for an explanation, 
and the strict condition of an early, and subse- 
quently forgotten, experience. Here too we find 
the characteristic of compulsiveness, which 
overpowering logical thinking strongly engages 
the psychical life; it is a trait which was not 
concerned in the genesis of the epic. 

This analogy is met with in psychopathology, 
in the genesis of human neurosis : that is to say, 
in a discipline belonging to individual psychology, 
whereas religious phenomena must of course be 
regarded as a part of mass psychology. We shall 
see that this analogy is not so startling as it 
appears at first sight; indeed, it is rather in the 
nature of an axiom. 

The impressions we experienced at an early age 
and forgot later, to which I have ascribed such 
great importance for the aetiology of the neuroses, 
are called traumata. It may remain an open 
question whether the aetiology of the neuroses 
should in general be regarded as a traumatic one. 
The obvious objection is that a trauma is not 
always evident in the early history of the neurotic 
individual. Often we must be content to say that 
there is nothing else but an unusual reaction 
to experiences and demands that apply to all 

Il8 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

individuals; many people deal with them in 
another way which we may term normal. Where 
we can find no other explanation than an heredit- 
ary and constitutional disposition we are naturally 
tempted to say that the neurosis was not suddenly 
acquired but slowly developed. 

In this connection, however, two points stand 
out. The first is that the genesis of the neurosis 
always goes back to very early impressions in 
childhood. 1 The second is this: it is correct to 
say that there are cases which we single out as 
" traumatic " ones because the effects unmistak- 
ably go back to one or more strong impressions 
of this early period. They failed to be disposed 
of normally, so that one feels inclined to say : if 
this or that had not happened, there would have 
been no neurosis. It would be sufficient for our 
purposes even if we had to limit the analogy in 
question to these traumatic cases. Yet the gap 
between the two groups does not seem unbridge- 
able. It is quite possible to combine both aetio- 
logical conditions in one conception ; all depends 
on what is defined as traumatic. If we may 
assume that an experience acquires its traumatic 
character only in consequence of a quantitative 
element that is to say, that if the experience 
evokes unusual pathological reactions the fault 

1 That is why it is nonsensical to maintain that psycho-analysis 
is practised if these early periods of life are excluded from one's 
investigation; yet this claim has been made in many quarters. 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION Iig 

lies in its having made too many demands on the 
personality then we can formulate the con- 
clusion that with one constitution something 
produces a trauma whereas with another it does 
not. We then have the conception of a sliding 
scale, a so-called complemental series, where two 
factors converge to complete the aetiology; a 
minus in one factor is compensated by a plus in 
the other. Generally the two factors work together 
and only at either end of the series can we speak 
of a simple motivation. In consequence of this 
reasoning we can leave out of account the 
difference between traumatic and non -traumatic 
aetiology as being unimportant for our analogy. 

Despite some risk of repetition, it may be 
useful to group together the facts relating to the 
important analogy in question. They are as 
follows. Our researches have shown that what 
we call the phenomena or symptoms of a neurosis 
are the consequences of certain experiences and 
impressions which, for this very reason, we recog- 
nize to be aetiological traumata. We wish to 
ascertain, even if only in a rough schematic way, 
the characteristics common to these experiences 
and to neurotic symptoms. 

Let us first consider the former. All these 
traumata belong to early childhood, the period 
up to about five years. Impressions during the 
time when the child begins to speak are found to 
be especially interesting. The period between two 

ISO MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

and four years is the most important. How soon 
after birth this sensitiveness to traumata begins 
we are not able to state with any degree of 
certainty. 

The experiences in question are as a rule 
entirely forgotten and remain inaccessible to 
memory. They belong to the period of infantile 
amnesia which is often interrupted by isolated 
fragmentary memories, the so-called " screen - 

memories. 55 

They concern impressions of a sexual and 
aggressive nature and also early injuries to the 
self (injuries to narcissism) . We should add that 
children at that early age do not yet distinguish 
between sexual and purely aggressive actions so 
clearly as they do later on; (the " sadistic " mis- 
understanding of the sexual act belongs to this 
context). It is of course very striking that the 
sexual factor should predominate and theory 
must take this into account. 

These three points early happenings within 
the first five years of life, the forgetting, and the 
characteristic of sexuality and aggressivity 
belong closely together. The traumata are either 
bodily experiences or perceptions, especially those 
heard or seen; that is to say, they are either 
experiences or impressions. What connects the 
three points is established theoretically, by 
analytic work; this alone can yield a knowledge 
of the forgotten experiences, or to put it more 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 121 

concretely, though more incorrectly is able to 
bring those forgotten experiences back to memory. 
The theory says that, contrary to popular 
opinion, human sexual life or what later cor- 
responds with it shows an early blossoming 
which comes to an end at about the age of five. 
Then follows the so-called latency period 
lasting up to puberty during which there is no 
further sexual development; on the contrary, 
much that had been achieved undergoes a retro- 
gression. The theory is confirmed by anatomical 
study of the growth of the internal genitalia; 
it suggests that man is derived from a species of 
animal that was sexually mature at five years, 
and arouses the suspicion that the postponement, 
and the beginning twice over, of sexual life has 
much to do with the transition to humanity. 
Man seems to be the only animal with a latency 
period and delayed sexuality. Investigations of 
primates, which so far as I know have not been 
made, would furnish an invaluable test for this 
theory. It must be significant psychologically 
that the period of infantile amnesia coincides 
with this early blossoming of sexuality. Perhaps 
this state of affairs is a necessary condition for the 
existence of neurosis, which seems to be a human 
privilege, and which in this light appears to be 
a survival from primaeval times like certain 
parts of our body. 
What features are common to all neurotic 

122 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

symptoms ? Here we may note two important 
points. The effects of the trauma are twofold, 
positive and negative. The former are endeavours 
to revive the trauma, to remember the forgotten 
experience, or, better still, to make it real 
to live once more through a repetition of it; if 
it was an early affective relationship it is revived 
iij an analogous connection with another person. 
These endeavours are summed up in the terms 
" fixation to the trauma " and " repetition - 
compulsion. 53 The effects can be incorporated 
into the so-called normal Ego and in the form of 
constant tendencies lend to it immutable charac- 
ter traits, although or rather because their 
real cause, their historical origin, has been for- 
gotten. Thus a man who has spent his childhood 
in an excessive and since forgotten " mother - 
fixation " may all his life seek for a woman on 
whom he can be dependent, who will feed and 
keep him. A girl who was seduced in early 
childhood may orient her later sexual life towards 
provoking such assaults over and over again. It 
will thus be seen that to understand the problems 
of neurosis enables us to penetrate into the secrets 
of character formation in general. 

The negative reactions pursue the opposite 
aim; here nothing is to be remembered or 
repeated of the forgotten traumata. They may be 
grouped together as defensive reactions. They 
express themselves in avoiding issues, a tendency 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 123 

which may culminate in an inhibition or phobia. 
These negative reactions also contribute con- 
siderably to the formation of character. Actually 
they represent fixations on the trauma no less 
than do the positive reactions, but they follow 
the opposite tendency. The symptoms of the 
neurosis proper constitute a compromise to 
which both the positive and negative effects of 
the trauma contribute; sometimes one com- 
ponent, sometimes the other, predominates. 
These opposite reactions create conflicts which 
the subject cannot as a rule resolve. 

The second point is this. All these phenomena, 
the symptoms as well as the restrictions of per- 
sonality and the lasting changes in character, 
display the characteristic of compulsiveness; that 
is to say, they possess great psychical intensity, 
they show a far-reaching independence of psy- 
chical processes that are adapted to the demands 
of the real world and obey the laws of logical 
thinking. They are not influenced by outer 
reality or not normally so ; they take no notice of 
real things, or the mental equivalents of these, so 
that they can easily come into active opposition 
to either. They are as a state within the state, 
an inaccessible party, useless for the common 
weal; yet they can succeed in overcoming the 
other, the so-called normal, component and 
in forcing it into their service. If this happens 
then the sovereignty of an inner psychical reality 

124 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

has been established over the reality of the outer 
world ;Tthe way to insanity is open. Even if it 
does not come to this, the practical importance 
of the conflict is immeasurable. The inhibitions, 
or even inability to deal with life, of people 
dominated by neurosis are a very important 
factor in human society. The neurosis may be 
regarded as a direct expression of a " fixation " 
to an early period of their past. 

And how about latency, a question especially 
interesting in regard to our analogy ? A trauma 
in childhood can be immediately followed by a 
neurosis during childhood; this constitutes an 
effort of defence accompanied by the formation 
of symptoms. The neurosis may last a long time 
and cause striking disturbances, or it may remain 
latent and be overlooked. As a rule, defence 
obtains the upper hand in such a neurosis ; in any 
event changes of the personality remain like 
scars. A childhood neurosis seldom continues 
without an interval into the neurosis of the adult. 
Much more often it is succeeded by a time of 
undisturbed development, a process made possible 
or facilitated by the physiological latency. Only 
later does the change appear with which the 
neurosis becomes definitely manifest as a delayed 
effect of the trauma. This happens either at 
puberty or somewhat later. In the first case it 
comes about because the instincts strengthened by 
physical maturity can again take up the battle 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 125 

in which at first they were defeated. In the second 
case the neurosis becomes manifest later because 
the reactions and changes of the personality 
brought about by the defence mechanisms prove 
to be an obstacle for the solving of new problems 
of life, so that grave conflicts arise between the 
demands of the outer world and those of the Ego, 
which strives to preserve the organization it had 
painfully developed in its defensive struggle. The 
phenomenon of a latency in the neurosis between 
the first reactions to the trauma and the later 
appearance of the illness must be recognized as 
typical. The illness may also be regarded as an 
attempt at cure, an endeavour to reconcile the 
divided Ego divided by the trauma with the 
rest and to unite it into a strong whole that will 
be fit to cope with the outer world. Yet such an 
effort is rarely successful unless analytic help is 
sought, and even then not always. Often it ends 
in entirely destroying and breaking up the Ego or 
in the Ego being overpowered by the portion that 
was early split off, and has since been dominated, 
by the trauma. 

To convince the reader of the truth of our 
statements the exhaustive communication of 
several neurotic life histories would be necessary. 
The difficulty of the subject, however, would lead 
to great discursiveness and entirely destroy the 
character of this essay. It would become a 
treatise on the neuroses and even then would 

126 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

enforce conviction only on that minority of 
people who have devoted their life's work to the 
study and practice of psycho-analysis. Since I am 
speaking here to a larger audience I can only 
ask the reader to lend a tentative credence to the 
abbreviated exposition which he has just read; 
I, on my part, agree that he need accept the 
deductions which I propose to lay before him 
only if the theories on which they are based turn 
out to be correct. 

Nevertheless I can try to relate one case 
which will show clearly many of the peculiari- 
ties of neurosis that I have mentioned above. 
One case cannot, of course, display everything; 
so we shall not be disappointed if its content seems 
far away from the analogy we are seeking. 

A little boy who, as so often happens in the 
families of the petite bourgeoisie, shared his parents 5 
bedroom had ample, and even regular, oppor- 
tunity for observing sexual intercourse at an age 
before he was able to talk. He saw much and 
heard still more. In his later neurosis, which 
broke out immediately after the time of his first 
seminal emission, disturbed sleep was the earliest 
and most trying symptom. He became extra- 
ordinarily sensitive to nocturnal noises and, if 
once awakened, could not get to sleep again. 
This disturbance was a true compromise symp- 
tom: on the one hand the expression of his 
defence against his nocturnal observations, on 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 127 

the other hand the endeavour to re-establish the 
wakefulness which had enabled him to listen to 
those experiences. 

Stirred early to aggressive virility by these 
observations the boy began to excite his penis by 
touch and to make sexual advances towards his 
mother, putting himself thus in his father's place 
through identification with him. This went on 
until at last his mother forbade him to touch his 
penis and threatened to tell his father, who would 
take the offending organ away. This threat of 
castration had a very strong traumatic effect on 
the boy. He relinquished his sexual activity and 
his character underwent a change. Instead of 
identifying himself with his father he began to be 
afraid of him, adopted a passive attitude towards 
him and by means of occasional disobedience 
provoked his father to punish him physically. 
This corporal punishment had sexual significance 
for him and in that way he could identify 
himself with the ill-treated mother. He began 
to cling more and more closely to his mother as 
if he could not bear to be without her love, even 
for a moment, since this constituted a protection 
against the danger of castration from his father. 
The latency period was spent in this modification 
of the (Edipus complex; it remained free from 
obvious disturbances. He became a model child 
and was successful in school. 

So far we have pursued the immediate effect 

128 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

of the trauma and confirmed the existence of a 
latency period. 

The appearance of puberty brought with it the 
manifest neurosis and disclosed its second main 
symptom, sexual impotency. He had lost all 
sensitiveness in his penis, never tried to touch it 
and never dared to approach a woman sexually. 
His sexual activities remained restricted to 
psychical onanism with sadistic -masochistic 
phantasies in which it was easy to recognize the 
consequence of those early observations of 
parental coitus. The thrust of increased virility 
that puberty brought with it turned to ferocious 
hatred of his father and opposition to him. This 
extreme negative relation to his father, which 
went as far as injuring his own interests, was the 
reason for his failure in life and his conflicts with 
the outer world. He could not allow himself to 
be successful in his profession, because his father 
had forced him to adopt it. He made no friends 
and was always on bad terms with his superiors. 

Burdened with these symptoms and incapacities 
he found at last a wife after his father's death. 
Then the core of his character appeared, traits 
which made him very difficult to live with. He 
developed an absolutely egotistical, despotic and 
brutal personality; it was obviously necessary to 
him to bully and oppress other people. He was 
the exact copy of his father, after the image of 
him he had formed in his memory; that is to say, 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 1 29 

he revived the father-identification which as a 
child he had adopted for sexual motives. In this 
part of the neurosis we recognize the return of 
the repressed, which together with the immedi- 
ate effects of the trauma and the phenomenon of 
latency we have described as among the essential 
symptoms of a neurosis. 

4. Application 

Early trauma Defence Latency Outbreak 
of the Neurosis Partial return of the repressed 
material: this was the formula we drew up for 
the development of a neurosis. Now I will 
invite the reader to take a step forward and 
assume that in the history of the human species 
something happened similar to the events in the 
life of the individual. That is to say, mankind 
as a whole also passed through conflicts of a 
sexual -aggressive nature, which left permanent 
traces but which were for the most part warded 
off and forgotten; later, after a long period of 
latency, they came to life again and created 
phenomena similar in structure and tendency to 
neurotic symptoms. 

I have, I believe, divined these processes and 
wish to show that their consequences, which 
bear a strong resemblance to neurotic symptoms, 
are the phenomena of religion. Since it can no 
longer be doubted after the discovery of evolution 

130 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

that mankind had a pre -history, and since this 
history is unknown (that is to say, forgotten), 
such a conclusion has almost the significance of 
an axiom. If we should learn that the effective 
and forgotten traumata relate, here as well as 
there, to life in the human family, we should 
greet this information as a highly welcome and 
unforeseen gift which could not have been 
anticipated from the foregoing discussion. 

I have already upheld this thesis a quarter of a 
century ago, in my book Totem and Taboo (1912), 
and need only repeat what I said there. The 
argument started from some remarks by Charles 
Darwin and embraced a suggestion of Atkinson's. 
It says that in primaeval times men lived in small 
hordes, each under the domination of a strong 
male. When this was is not known; no point of 
contact with geological data has been established. 
It is likely that mankind was not very far advanced 
in the art of speech. An essential part of the 
argument is that all primaeval men, including, 
therefore, all our ancestors, underwent the fate 
I shall now describe. 

The story is told in a very condensed way, as 
if what in reality took centuries to achieve, and 
during that long time was repeated innumerably, 
had only happened once. The strong male was 
the master and father of the whole horde: un- 
limited in his power, which he used brutally. All 
females were his property, the wives and daughters 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 

in his own horde as well as perhaps also those 
robbed from other hordes. The fate of the sons 
was a hard one; if they excited the father's 
jealousy they were killed or castrated or driven 
out. They were forced to live in small com- 
munities and to provide themselves with wives 
by robbing them from others. Then one or the 
other son might succeed in attaining a situation 
similar to that of the father in the original horde. 
One favoured position came about in a natural 
way: it was that of the youngest son who, 
protected by his mother's love, could profit by 
his father's advancing years and replace him 
after his death. An echo of the expulsion of the 
eldest son, as well as of the favoured position of 
the youngest, seems to linger in many myths and 
fairy tales. 

The next decisive step towards changing this 
first kind of " social " organization lies in the 
following suggestion. The brothers who had 
been driven out and lived together in a com- 
munity clubbed together, overcame the father 
and according to the custom of those times 
all partook of his body. This cannibalism need 
not shock us; it survived into far later times. 
The essential point is, however, that we attribute 
to those primaeval people the same feelings and 
emotions that we have elucidated in the primitives 
of our own times, our children, by psycho- 
analytic research. That is to say : they not merely 

132 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

hated and feared their father, but also honoured 
him as an example to follow; in fact each son 
wanted to place himself in his father's position. 
The cannibalistic act thus becomes comprehen- 
sible as an attempt to assure one's identification 
with the father by incorporating a part of him. 

It is a reasonable surmise that after the killing 
of the father a time followed when the brothers 
quarrelled among themselves for the succession, 
which each of them wanted to obtain for himself 
alone. They came to see that these fights were 
as dangerous as they were futile. This hard-won 
understanding as well as the memory of the 
deed of liberation they had achieved together 
and the attachment that had grown up among 
them during the time of their exile led at last 
to a union among them, a sort of social contract. 
Thus there came into being the first form of a 
social organization accompanied by a renunciation 
sf instinctual gratification; recognition of mutual 
Dbligations; institutions declared sacred, which 
:ould not be broken in short the beginnings of 
morality and law. Each renounced the ideal 
3f gaining for himself the position of father, of 
possessing his mother or sister. With this the 
taboo of incest and the law of exogamy came into 
being. A good part of the power which had 
become vacant through the father's death passed 
to the women; the time of the matriarchate 
followed. The memory of the father lived on 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 133 

during this time of the " brother horde." A 
strong animal, which perhaps at first was also 
dreaded, was found as a substitute. Such a 
choice may seem very strange to us, but the gulf 
which man created later between himself and the 
animals did not exist for primitive man. Nor does 
it with our children, whose animal phobias we 
have been able to explain as dread of the father. 
The relationship to the totem animal retained 
the original ambivalency of feeling towards 
the father. The totem was, on the one hand, the 
corporeal ancestor and protecting spirit of the 
clan; he was to be revered and protected. On 
the other hand, a festival was instituted on which 
day the same fate was meted out to him as the 
primaeval father had encountered. He was killed 
and eaten by all the brothers together. (The 
Totem feast, according to Robertson Smith.) 
This great day was in reality a feast of triumph to 
celebrate the victory of the united sons over the 
father. 

Where, in this connection, does religion come 
in ? Totemism, with its worship of a father substi- 
tute, the ambivalency towards the father which 
is evidenced by the totem feast, the institution 
of remembrance festivals and of laws the breaking 
of which is punished by death this totemism, 
I conclude, may be regarded as the earliest 
appearance of religion in the history of mankind, 
and it illustrates the close connection existing 

134 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

from the very beginning of time between social 
institutions and moral obligations. The further 
development of religion can be treated here only 
in a very summary fashion. Without a doubt it 
proceeded parallel to the cultural development 
of mankind and the changes in the structure of 
human social institutions. 

The next step forward from totemism is the 
humanizing of the worshipped being. Human 
gods, whose origin from the totem is not veiled, 
take the place previously filled by animals. 
Either the god is still represented as an animal or 
at least he bears the countenance of an animal; 
the totem may become the inseparable com- 
panion of the god, or, again, the myth makes the 
god vanquish just that animal which was nothing 
but his predecessor. At one period it is hard to 
say when great mother-deities appeared, prob- 
ably before the male gods, and they were wor- 
shipped beside the latter for a long time to come. 
During that time a great social revolution had 
taken place. Matriarchy was followed by a 
restitution of the patriarchal order. The new 
fathers, it is true, never succeeded to the omni- 
potence of the primaeval father. There were too 
many of them and they lived in larger com- 
munities than the original horde had been; they 
had to get on with one another and were restricted 
by social institutions. Probably the mother 
deities were developed when the matriarchy was 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 135 

being limited, in order to compensate the 
dethroned mothers. The male gods appear at 
first as sons by the side of the great mothers; only 
later do they clearly assume the features of the 
father. These male gods of polytheism mirror the 
conditions of patriarchal times. They are numer- 
ous, they have to share their authority, and 
occasionally they obey a higher god. The next 
step, however, leads us to the topic that interests 
us here : the return of the one and only father 
deity whose power is unlimited. 

I must admit that this historical survey leaves 
many a gap and in many points needs further 
confirmation. Yet whoever declares our recon- 
struction of primaeval history to be fantastic 
greatly underestimates the richness and the force 
of the evidence that has gone to make up this 
reconstruction. Large portions of the past, which 
are here woven into a whole, are historically 
proven or even show their traces to this day, such 
as matriarchal right, totemism and male com- 
munities. Others have survived in remarkable 
replicas. Thus more than one author has been 
struck by the close resemblance between the rite 
of Christian Communion where the believer 
symbolically incorporates the blood and flesh of 
his God and the Totem feast, whose inner 
meaning it reproduces. Numerous survivals of 
our forgotten early history are preserved in the 
legends and fairy tales of the peoples, and 

136 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

analytic study of the mental life of the child has 
yielded an unexpectedly rich return by filling up 
gaps in our knowledge of primaeval times. As a 
contribution towards an understanding of the 
highly important relation between father and 
son I need only quote the animal phobias, the 
fear of being eaten by the father (which seems so 
strange to the grown mind), and the enormous 
intensity of the castration complex. There is 
nothing in our reconstruction that is invented, 
nothing that is not based on good grounds. 

Let us suppose that the presentation here given 
of primaeval history is on the whole credible. 
Then two elements can be recognized in religious 
rites and doctrines: on the one hand, fixations 
on the old family history and survivals of this; 
on the other hand, reproductions of the past and 
a return long after of what had been forgotten. 
It is the latter element that has until now been 
overlooked and therefore not understood. It 
will therefore be illustrated here by at least one 
impressive example. 

It is specially worthy of note that every memory 
returning from the forgotten past does so with 
great force, produces an incomparably strong 
influence on the mass of mankind and puts 
forward an irresistible claim to be believed, 
against which all logical objections remain 
powerless very much like the credo quia 
absurdum. This strange characteristic can only be 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 137 

understood by comparison with the delusions in a 
psychotic case. It has long been recognized that 
delusions contain a piece of forgotten truth, 
which had at its return to put up with being 
distorted and misunderstood, and that the com- 
pulsive conviction appertaining to the delusion 
emanates from this core of truth and spreads to 
the errors that enshroud it. Such a kernel of 
truth which we miglit call historical truth must 
also be conceded to the doctrines of the various 
religions. They are, it is true, imbued with the 
character of psychotic symptoms, but as mass 
phenomena they have escaped the curse of 
isolation. 

No other part of religious history has become 
so abundantly clear as the establishment of mono- 
theism among the Jewish people and its continua- 
tion into Christianity if we omit the develop- 
ment from the animal totem to the human god 
with his regular (animal) companion, a develop- 
ment which can be traced without a gap and 
readily understood. (Each of the four Christian 
evangelists, by the way, still has his favourite 
animal.) If we admit for the moment that the 
rule of Pharaoh's empire was the external reason 
for the appearance of the monotheistic idea, we 
see that this idea uprooted from its soil and 
transplanted to another people after a long 
latency period takes hold of this people, is 
treasured by them as their most precious possession 

138 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

and for its part keeps this people alive by bestow- 
ing on them the pride of being the chosen people. 
It is the religion of the primaeval father and the 
hope of reward, distinction and finally world 
sovereignty, is bound up with it. The last-named 
wish -phantasy relinquished long ago by the 
Jewish people still survives among their enemies 
in their belief in the conspiracy of the " Elders 
of Zion." We shall consider in a later chapter 
how the special peculiarities of a monotheistic 
religion borrowed from Egypt must have worked 
on the Jewish people, how it formed their 
character for good through the disdaining of 
magic and mysticism and encouraging them to 
progress in spirituality and sublimations. The 
people, happy in their conviction of possessing 
truth, overcome by the consciousness of being 
the chosen, came to value highly all intellectual 
and ethical achievements. I shall also show how 
their sad fate, and the disappointments reality had 
in store for them, was able to strengthen all these 
tendencies. At present, however, we shall follow 
their historical development in another direction. 
The restoration to the primaeval father of his 
historical rights marked a great progress, but 
this could not be the end. The other parts of 
the prehistoric tragedy also clamoured for recog- 
nition. How this process was set into motion it 
is not easy to say. It seems that a growing feeling 
of guiltiness had seized the Jewish people and 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 139 

perhaps the whole of civilization of that time- 
as a precursor of the return of the repressed 
material. This went on until a member of the 
Jewish people, in the guise of a political -religious 
agitator, founded a doctrine which together with 
another one, the Christian religion separated 
from the Jewish one. Paul, a Roman Jew from 
Tarsus, seized upon this feeling of guilt and 
correctly traced it back to its primaeval source. 
This he called original sin ; it was a crime against 
God that could be expiated only through death. 
Death had come into the world through original 
sin. In reality this crime, deserving of death, 
had been the murder of the Father who later was 
deified. The murderous deed itself, however, was 
not remembered ; in its place stood the phantasy 
of expiation and that is why this phantasy could 
be welcomed in the form of a gospel of salvation 
(Evangel). A Son of God, innocent himself, 
had sacrificed himself and had thereby taken 
over the guilt of the world. It had to be a Son, 
for the sin had been murder of the Father. 
Probably traditions from Oriental and Greek 
mysteries had exerted their influence on the 
shaping of this phantasy of salvation. The 
essence of it seems to be Paul's own contribution. 
He was a man with a gift for religion, in the truest 
sense of the phrase. Dark traces of the past lay 
in his soul, ready to break through into the 
regions of consciousness. 

I4O MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

That the Redeemer sacrificed himself as an 
innocent man was an obviously tendentious 
distortion, difficult to reconcile with logical 
thinking. How could a man who was innocent 
assume the guilt of the murderer by allowing 
himself to be killed'? In historical reality there 
was no such contradiction. The " redeemer " 
could be no one else but he who was most guilty, 
the leader of the brother horde who had over- 
powered' the Father. Whether there had been 
such a chief rebel and leader must in my 
opinion remain uncertain. It is quite possible, 
but we must also consider that each member of 
the brother horde certainly had the wish to do 
the deed by himself and thus to create for himself 
a unique position as a substitute for the identifica- 
tion with the father which he had to give up when 
he was submerged in the community. If there 
was no such leader, then Christ was the heir of 
an unfulfilled wish -phantasy; if there was such 
a leader, then Christ was his successor and 
his reincarnation. It is unimportant, however, 
whether we have here a phantasy or the return 
of a forgotten reality ; in any case, here lies the 
origin of the conception of the hero he who 
rebels against the father and kills him in some 
guise or other. 1 Here we also find the real source 

1 Ernest Jones calls my attention to the probability that the 
God Mithra, who slays the Bull, represented this leader, the one 
who simply gloried in his deed. It is well known how long the 
worship of Mithra disputed the final victory with Christianity. 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 141 

of the " tragic guilt " of the hero in drama a 
guilt hard to demonstrate otherwise. We can 
scarcely doubt that in Greek tragedy the hero and 
the chorus represent this same rebel hero and the 
brother horde, and it cannot be without signifi- 
cance that in the Middle Ages the theatre began 
afresh with the story of the Passion. 

I have already mentioned that the Christian 
ceremony of Holy Communion, in which the 
believer incorporates the flesh and blood of the 
Redeemer, repeats the content of the old Totem 
feast; it does so, it is true, only in its tender and 
adoring sense, not in its aggressive sense. The 
ambivalency dominating the father -son relation- 
ship, however, shows clearly in the final result 
of the religious innovation. Meant to propitiate 
the father deity, it ends by his being dethroned 
and set aside. The Mosaic religion had been a 
Father religion; Christianity became a Son 
religion. The old God, the Father, took second 
place; Christ, the Son, stood in His stead, just 
as in those dark times every son had longed to do. 
Paul, by developing the Jewish religion further, 
became its destroyer. His success was certainly 
mainly due to the fact that through the idea of 
salvation he laid the ghost of the feeling of guilt. 
It was also due to his giving up the idea of the 
chosen people and its visible sign circum- 
cision. That is how the new religion could 
become all-embracing, universal. Although this 

142 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

step might have been determined by Paul's 
revengefulness on account of the opposition 
which his innovation found among the Jews, 
nevertheless one characteristic of the old Aton 
religion (universality) was reinstated; a restric- 
tion had been abolished which it had acquired 
while passing on to a new carrier, the Jewish 
people. 

In certain respects the new religion was a 
cultural regression as compared with the older 
Jewish religion; this happens regularly when a 
new mass of people of a lower cultural level 
effects an invasion or is admitted into an older 
culture. Christian religion did not keep to the 
lofty heights of spirituality to which the Jewish 
religion had soared. The former was no longer 
strictly monotheistic, took over from the sur- 
rounding peoples numerous symbolical rites, re- 
established the great Mother Goddess and found 
room for many deities of polytheism in an easily 
recognizable disguise though in subordinate 
positions. Above all it was not inaccessible as 
the Aton religion and the subsequent Mosaic 
religion had been to the penetration of super- 
stitions, magical and mystical elements which 
proved a great hindrance to the spiritual develop- 
ment of two following millenia. 

The triumph of Christianity was a renewed 
victory of the Amon priests over the God of 
Ikhnaton after an interval of a millenium and a 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 143 

half and over a larger region. And yet Christian- 
ity marked a progress in the history of religion : 
that is to say, in regard to the return of the 
repressed. From now on Jewish religion was, so 
to speak, a fossil. 

It would be worth while to understand why 
the monotheistic idea should make such a deep 
impression on just the Jewish people, and why 
they adhered to it so tenaciously. I believe 
this question can be answered. The great deed 
and misdeed of primaeval times, the murder of the 
Father, was brought home to the Jews, for fate 
decreed that they should repeat it on the person 
of Moses, an eminent father substitute. It was 
a case of acting instead of remembering, some- 
thing which often happens during analytic work 
with neurotics. They responded to the doctrine 
of Moses which should have been a stimulus to 
their memory by denying their act, did not 
progress beyond the recognition of the great 
Father and barred the passage to the point where 
later on Paul started his continuation of primaeval 
history. It can scarcely be chance that the violent 
death of another great man should become the 
starting point for the creation of a new religion 
by Paul. This was a man whom a small number 
of adherents in Judea believed to be the Son of 
God and the promised Messiah, and who later 
on took over some of the childhood history that 
had been attached to Moses. In reality, however, 

144 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

we have hardly more definite knowledge of him 
than we have of Moses. We do not know if he 
was really the great man whom the Gospels 
depict or whether it was not rather the fact and 
the circumstances of his death that were the 
decisive factor in his achieving importance. Paul, 
who became his apostle, did not himself know 
him. 

The murder of Moses by his people which 
Sellin recognized in the traces of tradition and 
which, strangely enough, the young Goethe 1 had 
assumed without any evidence has thus become 
an indispensable part of our reasoning, an impor- 
tant link between the forgotten deed of primaeval 
times and its subsequent reappearance in the 
form of Monotheistic religions, 2 It is an attractive 
suggestion that the guilt attached to the murder 
of Moses may have been the stimulus for the wish- 
phantasy of the Messiah, who was to return and 
give to his people salvation and the promised 
sovereignty over the world. If Moses was this 
first Messiah, Christ became his substitute and 
successor. Then Paul could with a certain right 
say to the peoples: " See, the Messiah has truly 
come. He was indeed murdered before your 
eyes." Then also there is some historical truth 
in the rebirth of Christ, for he was the resurrected 

1 Israel in der Wuste, Bd. VII of the Weimar Edition, S. 170. 

2 Compare in this connection the well-known exposition in 
Frazer's The Golden Bough, Part III, " The Dying God," 1911. 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 145 

Moses and the returned primaeval Father of the 
primitive horde as well only transfigured and 
as a Son in the place of his Father. 

The poor Jewish people, who with its usual 
stiff-necked obduracy continued to deny the 
murder of their " father/ 5 has dearly expiated 
this in the course of centuries. Over and over 
again they heard the reproach: you killed our 
God. And this reproach is true, if rightly 
interpreted. It says, in reference to the history of 
religion: you won't admit that you murdered 
God (the archetype of God, the primaeval Father 
and his reincarnations). Something should be 
added, namely: " It is true, we did the same 
thing, but we admitted it, and since then we have 
been purified." 

Not all accusations with which antisemitism 
pursues the descendants of the Jewish people are 
based on such good foundations. There must, of 
course, be more than one reason for a phenomenon 
of such intensity and lasting strength as the 
popular hatred of Jews. A whole series of reasons 
can be divined: some of them, which need no 
interpretation, arise from obvious considerations; 
others lie deeper and spring from secret sources, 
which one would regard as the specific motives. 
In the first group the most fallacious is the 
reproach of their being foreigners, since in many 
places nowadays under the sway of antisemitism 
the Jews were the oldest constituents of the 
K 

146 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

population or arrived even before the present in- 
habitants. This is so, for example, in the town 
of Cologne, where Jews came with the Romans, 
before it was colonized by Germanic tribes. Other 
grounds for antisemitism are stronger, as for 
example, the circumstance that Jews mostly live 
as a minority among other peoples, since the 
feeling of solidarity of the masses in order to be 
complete has need of an animosity against an 
outside minority and the numerical weakness of 
the minority invites suppression. Two other 
peculiarities that the Jews possess, however, are 
quite unpardonable. The first is that in many 
respects they are different from their " hosts." 
Not fundamentally so, since they are not a foreign 
Asiatic race as their enemies maintain but 
mostly consist of the remnants of Mediterranean 
peoples and inherit their culture. Yet they are 
different although sometimes it is hard to define 
in what respects especially from the Nordic 
peoples, and racial intolerance finds stronger 
expression strange to say in regard to small 
differences than to fundamental ones. The second 
peculiarity has an even more pronounced effect. 
It is that they defy oppression, that even the most 
cruel persecutions have not succeeded in exter- 
minating them. On the contrary, they show a 
capacity for holding their own in practical life 
and, where they are admitted, they make valuable 
contributions to the surrounding civilization. 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 147 

The deeper motives of antisemitism have their 
roots in times long past; they come from the 
unconscious and I am quite prepared to hear 
that what I am going to say will at first appear 
incredible. I venture to assert that the jealousy 
which the Jews evoked in the other peoples by 
maintaining that they were the first-born, favour- 
ite child of God the Father has not yet been 
overcome by those others, just as if the latter had 
given credence to the assumption. Furthermore, 
among the customs through which the Jews 
marked off their aloof position, that of circum- 
cision made a disagreeable, uncanny impression 
on others. The explanation probably is that it 
reminds them of the dreaded castration idea and 
of things in their primaeval past which they would 
fain forget. Then there is lastly the most recent 
motive of the series. We must not forget that all 
the peoples who now excel in the practice of anti- 
semitism became Christians only in relatively 
recent times, sometimes forced to it by bloody 
compulsion. One might say, they all are " badly 
christened "; under the thin veneer of Christian- 
ity they have remained what their ancestors were, 
barbarically polytheistic. They have not yet 
overcome their grudge against the new religion 
which was forced on them, and they have pro- 
jected it on to the source from which Christianity 
came to them. The facts that the Gospels tell a 
story which is enacted among Jews, and in truth 

148 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

treats only of Jews, has facilitated such a projec- 
tion. The hatred for Judaism is at bottom hatred 
for Christianity, and it is not surprising that in the 
German National-Socialist revolution this close 
connection of the two monotheistic religions finds 
such clear expression in the hostile treatment of 
both. 

5. Difficulties 

Perhaps the preceding chapter has succeeded 
in establishing the analogy between neurotic 
processes and religious events and thereby in 
pointing to the unexpected origin of the latter. 
In this translation from individual into mass 
psychology two difficulties emerge, different in 
nature and importance, which we must now 
examine. The first is that we have treated here of 
only one case in the rich phenomenology of the 
religions and have not thrown any light on the 
others. The author regretfully has to admit that 
he cannot give more than one sample, that he has 
not the expert knowledge necessary to complete 
the investigation. This limited knowledge will 
allow him perhaps to add that the founding of the 
Mohammedan religion seems to him to be an 
abbreviated repetition of the Jewish one, in 
imitation of which it made its appearance. There 
is reason to believe that the Prophet originally 
intended to accept the Jewish religion in full for 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 149 

himself and his people. The regaining of the one 
great primaeval Father produced in the Arabs an 
extraordinary advance in self-confidence which 
led them to great worldly successes, but which 
it is true exhausted itself in these. Allah proved 
himself to be much more grateful to his chosen 
people than Jahve had in his time. The inner 
development of the new religion, however, soon 
came to a standstill, perhaps because it lacked 
the profundity which in the Jewish religion 
resulted from the murder of its founder. The 
apparently rationalistic religions of the East are 
in essence ancestor cults; therefore they stop 
short at an early stage of the reconstruction of 
the past. If it is correct that in the primitive 
peoples of our time we find as the sole content 
:>f their religion the worship of a highest Being, 
then we can interpret this only as a withering in 
the development of religion, and from here draw 
a parallel with the innumerable cases of rudiment- 
ary neuroses which we find in clinical psychology. 
Why here as well as there no further development 
took place we do not understand. We must hold 
the individual gifts of these peoples responsible 
or it, the direction their activities take and their 
general social condition. Besides it is a good 
^ule in analytic work to be satisfied with explain - 
ng what exists and not to try to explain what has 
lot happened. 
The second difficulty in this translation into 

150 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

mass psychology is much more significant, because 
it presents a new problem of a cardinal nature. 
The question arises in what form is the active 
tradition in the life of the peoples still extant. 
There is no such question with individuals, for 
here the matter is settled by the existence of 
memory traces of the past in the unconscious. 
Let us go back to our historical example. The 
compromise in Qades, we said, was based on the 
continued existence of a powerful tradition 
living on in the people who had returned from 
Egypt. There is no problem here. We suggested 
that such a tradition was maintained by conscious 
memory of oral communications which had been 
passed on from forbears of only two or three 
generations ago. The latter had been participants 
and eye-witnesses of the events in question. Can 
we believe the same, however, for the later 
centuries, namely, that the tradition was always 
based on a knowledge, communicated in a normal 
way, which had been transmitted from forbear 
to descendant ? Who the persons were that 
stored such knowledge and passed it on from 
mouth to mouth we no longer know, as we did 
in the earlier case. According to Sellin, the 
tradition of the murder of Moses was always 
present among the Priests, until at last it was set 
down in writing which alone made it possible 
for Sellin to divine it. Yet it could not have been 
known to many; it was not general knowledge. 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 151 

And is this form of transmission enough to explain 
its effect ? Can we credit such a knowledge on 
the part of a few with the power to seize the 
imagination of the masses so lastingly when they 
learn of it ? It rather looks as if there were a 
something also in the ignorant mass of the people 
akin to this knowledge on the part of the few, 
which comes forward to meet it as soon as it is 
uttered. 

It becomes harder still to arrive at a conclusion 
when we turn to the analogous case in primaeval 
times. In the course of thousands of centuries 
it certainly became forgotten that there was a 
primaeval father possessing the qualities we men- 
tioned, and what fate he met. Nor can we assume 
an oral tradition as we did with Moses. In what 
sense, therefore, can there be any question of a 
tradition ? In what form could it have existed ? 

To help readers who are unwilling or un- 
prepared to plunge into complicated psycho- 
logical matters I shall place the result of the 
following investigation at the very beginning. I 
hold that the concordance between the individual 
and the mass is in this point almost complete. 
The masses, too, retain an impression of the past 
in unconscious memory traces. 

The case of the individual seems to be clear 
enough. The memory trace of early events he 
has retained, but he has retained it in a special 
psychological condition. One can say that the 

152 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

individual always knew of them, in the sense that 
we know repressed material. We have formed 
certain conceptions and they can easily be 
proved by analysis of how something gets 
forgotten and of how after a time it can come to 
light again. The forgotten material is not ex- 
tinguished, only " repressed " ; its traces are 
extant in the memory in their original freshness, 
but they are isolated by " counter-cathexes." 
They cannot establish contact with the other 
intellectual processes; they are unconscious, 
inaccessible to consciousness. It may happen 
that certain parts of the repressed material have 
escaped this process, have remained accessible 
to memory and occasionally reappear in con- 
sciousness, but even then they are isolated, a 
foreign body without any connection with the 
rest of the mind. This may happen, but it need 
not happen. Repression may also be complete, 
and this is the case we propose to examine. 

This repressed material retains its impetus to 
penetrate into consciousness. It reaches its aim 
when three conditions are present. ( i ) When the 
strength of counter-cathexis is diminished by an 
illness which acts on the Ego itself, or through a 
different distribution of cathexis in the Ego as 
happens regularly during sleep. (2) When those 
instincts attached to the repressed material become 
strengthened. The processes during puberty pro- 
vide the best example for this. (3) Whenever 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 153 

recent events produce impressions or experi- 
ences which are so much like the repressed 
material that they have the power to awaken it. 
Thus the recent material gets strengthened by the 
latent energy of the repressed, and the repressed 
material produces its effect behind the recent 
material and with its help. 

In none of the three cases does the material 
that had been repressed succeed in reaching 
consciousness unimpeded or without change. It 
must always undergo distortions which bear witness 
to the not entirely overcome resistance derived 
from the counter-cathexis, or else to the modify- 
ing influence of a recent experience or to both. 

As a distinguishing sign and landmark we have 
used the difference between a psychic process 
being conscious or unconscious. The repressed 
material is unconscious. It would be a cheering 
simplification if this sentence could be reversed, 
i.e. if the difference of the qualities " conscious " 
and " unconscious " were identical with the 
difference: belonging to the Ego or repressed. 
The fact that our mental life harboured such 
isolated and unconscious material would be new 
and important enough. In reality things are 
more complex. It is true that all repressed 
material is unconscious, but not true that every- 
thing belonging to the Ego is conscious. We 
become aware that being conscious is an 
ephemeral quality which adheres to a psychical 

154 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

process only temporarily. This is why for our 
purposes we must replace "conscious" by "capable 
of being conscious," and we call this quality " pre- 
conscious." We then say more correctly : the Ego 
is essentially preconscious (virtually conscious) , 
but parts of the Ego are unconscious. 

This last statement teaches us that the qualities 
to which we have attended so far do not suffice 
to show us the way in the darkness of mental life. 
We must introduce another distinction, one no 
longer qualitative, but topographical, and 
which lends it a special value genetic at the same 
time. Now we distinguish from our mental life 
which we see to be an apparatus consisting of 
several hierarchies, districts or provinces one 
region, which we term the " real Ego," from 
another which we call the " Id." The Id is the 
older; the Ego has developed out of it through the 
influence of the outer world as the bark develops 
around a tree. Our primary instincts start in the 
Id; all processes in the Id are unconscious. The 
Ego corresponds, as we have mentioned, with the 
realm of the preconscious; parts of it normally 
remain unconscious. The psychical processes in 
the " Id " obey quite different laws; their course 
and the influence they exert on one another are 
different from those that reign in the Ego. It is 
the discovery of these differences that has guided 
us to our new understanding and lends confirma- 
tion to it. 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 155 

The repressed material must be regarded as 
belonging to the Id and obeys its mechanisms; 
it differs from it only in respect of its genesis. 
This differentiation takes place during the early 
period, while the Ego is developing out of the Id. 
Then the Ego takes possession of part of the Id 
and raises it on to the preconscious level; other 
parts are thus not affected and remain in the Id 
as the " unconscious " proper. In the further de- 
velopment of the Ego, however, certain psychical 
impressions and processes in it get shut out by 
defensive mechanisms; they are deprived of their 
preconscious character, so that they are degraded 
again to become integral parts of the Id. This, 
therefore, is the " repressed material " in the Id. 
As regards the passage between the two mental 
provinces we assume, on the one hand, that 
unconscious processes in the Id can be raised to 
a preconscious level and incorporated into the 
Ego, and, on the other hand, that preconscious 
material in the Ego can travel the opposite way 
and be shifted back into the Id. That later on 
another district, the " Super-ego," is delimited 
in the Ego, does not concern us in this context. 

All this may seem far from simple, but if one 
has become familiar with the unaccustomed 
topographical conception of the mental apparatus 
then there are no particular difficulties. I will 
add here that the topography of the psyche I 
have here developed has in general nothing to do 

156 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

with cerebral anatomy; there is only one point 
where it impinges on it. The unsatisfactoriness of 
this conception which I perceive as clearly as 
anyone has its roots in our complete ignorance 
of the dynamic nature of mental processes. We 
realise that what distinguishes a conscious idea 
from a preconscious one, and this from an un- 
conscious one, cannot be anything else but a 
modification, or perhaps also another distribution, 
of psychic energy. We speak of cathexes and 
hypercathexes, but beyond this we lack all 
knowledge and even a beginning for a useful 
working hypothesis. Of the phenomenon of 
consciousness we are at least able to say that it 
cleaves originally to perception. All perceptions 
which come about through painful, tactile, 
auditory or visual stimuli are the more likely to 
be conscious. Thought processes, and what may 
be analogous to them in the Id, are unconscious 
per se, and obtain their entry into consciousness 
by their connection, via the function of speech, 
with memory traces of perceptions through touch 
and ear. In the animal, which lacks speech, these 
relationships must be simpler. 

The impressions of the early traumata, from 
which we started, are either not translated into 
the preconscious or they are soon re -directed 
into the Id through repression. Their memory- 
residues are then unconscious and operate from 
the Id. We can believe we can follow their 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 157 

further fate distinctly as long as they deal with 
personal experiences. A new complication arises, 
however, when we become aware that there 
probably exists in the mental life of the individual 
not only what he has experienced himself, but 
also what he brought with him at birth, fragments 
of phylogenetic origin, an archaic heritage. Then 
the question arises : in what does this inheritance 
consist, what does it contain, and what evidence 
of it is there ? 

The first and most certain answer is that it 
consists in certain dispositions, such as all living 
beings possess: that is to say, in the ability and 
tendency to follow a certain direction of develop- 
ment, and to react in a particular way to certain 
excitations, impressions and stimuli. Since 
experience shows that individuals differ in this 
respect, our archaic inheritance includes these 
differences; they represent what is recognized 
as the constitutional element in the individual. 
Since all human beings go through the same 
experiences, at least in their earliest years, they 
also react to them in the same way, and this is why 
the doubt arose whether these reactions with all 
their individual differences should not be reckoned 
as part of that archaic heritage. This doubt must 
be rejected; the fact of this similarity does not 
enrich our knowledge of the archaic heritage. 

Meanwhile analytic research has yielded several 
results which give us food for thought. First of 

158 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

all there is the universality of speech symbolism. 
Symbolic substitution of one object through 
another the same applies to actions our 
children are conversant with, and it seems quite 
natural to them. We cannot trace the way in 
which they learned it and must admit that in 
many cases to learn it would be impossible. It 
is original knowledge, which the adult later on 
forgets. He employs, it is true, the same symbol- 
ism in his dreams, but he does not understand 
them unless the analyst interprets them for him 
and even then he is loath to believe the translation. 
When he has used one of the common phrases of 
speech in which this symbolism is crystallized, he 
has to admit that its true meaning had quite 
escaped him. Symbolism even ignores the differ- 
ence in languages; investigation would probably 
show that it is ubiquitous, the same with all 
peoples. Here there seems to be an assured case 
of archaic inheritance from the time when 
speech was developing, although one might 
attempt another explanation: one might say 
that these are thought-connections between ideas 
which were formed during the historical develop- 
ment of speech and which have to be repeated 
every time the individual passes through such a 
development. This then would be a case of 
inheriting a thought-disposition as elsewhere one 
inherits an instinctual disposition; so it again 
would contribute nothing new to our problem. 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 159 

Analytic research, however, has also brought 
to light other things, which exceed in significance 
anything we have so far discussed. In studying 
reactions to early traumata we often find to our 
surprise that they do not keep strictly to what the 
individual himself has experienced, but deviate 
from this in a way that would accord much better 
with their being reactions to genetic events and 
in general can be explained only through the 
influence of such. The behaviour of a neurotic 
child to his parents when under the influence of 
an (Edipus and castration complex is very rich 
in such reactions which seem unreasonable in the 
individual and can only be understood phylo- 
genetically, in relation to the experiences of 
earlier generations. It would be amply worth 
while to collect and publish the material on which 
my remarks are based. In fact it seems to me 
convincing enough to allow me to venture 
further and assert that the archaic heritage of 
mankind includes not only dispositions, but 
also ideational contents, memory-traces of the 
experiences of former generations. In this way 
the extent as well as the significance of the 
archaic heritage would be enhanced in a remark- 
able degree. 

On second thoughts I must admit that I have 
argued as if there were no question that there exists 
an inheritance of memory-traces of what our 
forefathers experienced, quite independently of 

l6o MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

direct communication and of the influence of 
education by example. When I speak of an old 
tradition still alive in a people, of the formation 
of a national character, it is such an inherited 
tradition and not one carried on by word of 
mouth that I have in mind. Or at least I did 
not distinguish between the two, and was not 
quite clear about what a bold step I took by 
neglecting this difference. This state of affairs is 
made more difficult, it is true, by the present 
attitude of biological science which rejects the 
idea of acquired qualities being transmitted to 
descendants. I admit, in all modesty, that in 
spite of this I cannot picture biological develop- 
ment proceeding without taking this factor into 
account. The two cases, it is true, are not quite 
similar; with the former it is a question of 
acquired qualities that are hard to conceive, 
with the latter memory-traces of external ex- 
pressions, something almost concrete. Probably, 
however, we cannot an fond imagine one without 
the other. If we accept the continued existence 
of such memory-traces in our archaic inheritance 
then we have bridged the gap between individual 
and mass psychology, and can treat peoples as 
we do the individual neurotic. Though we may 
admit that for the memory-traces in our archaic 
inheritance we have so far no stronger proof 
than those remnants of memory evoked by 
analytic work, which call for a derivation from 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION l6l 

phylogenesis, yet this proof seems to me convinc- 
ing enough to postulate such a state of affairs. If 
things are different then we are unable to advance 
one step further on our way, either in psycho- 
analysis or in mass psychology. It is bold, but 
inevitable. 

In making this postulate we also do something 
else. We diminish the over-wide gap human 
arrogance in former times created between man 
and beast. If the so-called instincts of animals 
which from the very beginning allow them to 
behave in their new conditions of living as if they 
were old and long-established ones if this 
instinctual life of animals permits of any explana- 
tion at all, it can only be this: that they carry 
over into their new existence the experience of 
their kind, that is to say, that they have preserved 
in their minds memories of what their ancestors 
experienced. In the human animal things should 
not be fundamentally different. His own archaic 
heritage though different in extent and charac- 
ter corresponds to the instincts of animals. 

After these considerations I have no qualms in 
saying that men have always known in this 
particular way that once upon a time they had 
a primaeval father and killed him. 

Two further questions must here be answered. 
First under what conditions does such a memory 
enter into the archaic inheritance and, secondly, 
in what circumstances can it become active, that 

1 62 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

is to say, penetrate from its unconscious state in 
the Id into consciousness though in an altered 
and distorted form ? The answer to the first 
question is easy to formulate: it happens when 
the experience is important enough or is repeated 
often enough or in both cases. With the father- 
murder both conditions are fulfilled. To the 
second question I would remark: there may be 
a number of influences which need not all be 
known; a spontaneous course is also possible in 
analogy with what happens in some neuroses. 
The awakening, however, of the memory-trace 
through a recent real repetition of the event is 
certainly of decisive importance. The murder of 
Moses was such a repetition, and later on the 
supposed judicial murder of Christ, so that these 
events move into the foreground as causative 
agents. It seems as if the genesis of monotheism 
would not have been possible without these 
events. We are reminded of the words of the 
poet: 

" All that is to live in endless song 
Must in life-time first be drown'd." l 

I will conclude with a remark which furnishes 
a psychological argument. A tradition based only 
on oral communication could not produce the 

1 Schiller: The Gods of Greece (English translation by E. A. 
Bowring). 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 163 

obsessive character which appertains to religious 
phenomena. It would be listened to, weighed 
and perhaps rejected, just like any other news 
from outside ; it would never achieve the privilege 
of being freed from the coercion of logical think- 
ing. It must first have suffered the fate of 
repression, the state of being unconscious, before 
it could produce such mighty effects on its 
return, and force the masses under its spell, such 
as we have observed with astonishment and 
hitherto without understanding in religious 
tradition. And this is a consideration which tilts 
the balance in favour of the belief that things 
really happened as I have tried to describe them 
or at least very much in that way. 

SECTION II 
i. Summary 

The following part of this essay cannot be sent 
forth into the world without lengthy explanations 
and apologies. For it is no other than a faithful, 
often literal, repetition of the first part save that 
some of the critical investigations have been 
condensed and that there are additions referring 
to the problem of how and why the character of 

164 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

the Jewish people developed in the form it did. 
I know that this way of presenting my subject is 
as ineffectual as it is inartistic. I myself dis- 
approve of it wholeheartedly. Why have I not 
avoided it ? The answer to this question is easy 
for me to find, but rather hard to admit. I have 
not been able to efface the traces of the unusual 
way in which this book came to be written. 

In truth it has been written twice over. The 
first time was a few years ago in Vienna, where 
I did not believe in the possibility of publishing 
it. I decided to put it away, but it haunted me 
like an unlaid ghost, and I compromised by 
publishing two parts of the book independently 
in the periodical Imago. They were the psycho- 
analytical starting points of the whole book: 
" Moses an Egyptian " and the historical essay 
built on it " If Moses was an Egyptian. " The 
rest, which might give offence and was danger- 
ous namely, the application of my theory to the 
genesis of monotheism and my interpretation of 
religion I kept back, as I thought, for ever. 
Then in March 1938 came the unexpected 
German invasion. It forced me to leave my home, 
but it also freed me of the fear lest my publishing 
the book might cause psycho-analysis to be for- 
bidden in a country where its practice was still 
allowed. No sooner had I arrived in England 
than I found the temptation of making my with- 
held knowledge accessible to the world irresistible, 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 165 

and so I started to rewrite the third part of my 
essay, to follow the two already published. This 
naturally necessitated a regrouping of the 
material, if only in part. In this secondary re- 
editing, however, I did not succeed in fitting the 
whole material in. On the other hand, I could 
not make up my mind to relinquish the two 
former contributions altogether, and this is how 
the compromise came about of adding unaltered 
a whole piece of the first version to the second, a 
device which has the disadvantage of extensive 
repetition. 

I might, it is true, find comfort in the reflection 
that the matter I treated of was so new and 
significant quite apart from whether my presen- 
tation of it was correct or not that it must count 
as only a minor misfortune if people are made to 
read about it twice over. There are things that 
should be said more than once and cannot be 
repeated often enough. It should, however, be 
left to the reader's free will whether he wishes to 
linger with a subject or return to it. A conclusion 
should not be emphasized by the sly device of 
dishing up the same subject twice in the same 
book. By doing so one proves oneself a clumsy 
writer and has to bear the blame for it. However, 
the creative power of an author does not, alas, 
always follow his good will. A work grows as it 
will and sometimes confronts its author as an 
independent, even an alien, creation. 

1 66 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

2. The People of Israel 

If we are quite clear in our minds that a pro- 
cedure like the present one to take from the 
traditional material what seems useful and to 
reject what is unsuitable, and then to put the 
individual pieces together according to their 
psychological probability does not afford any 
security for finding the truth, then one is quite 
right to ask why such an attempt was under- 
taken. In answer to this I must cite the result. 
If we substantially reduce the severe demands 
usually made on an historical and psychological 
investigation then it might be possible to clear 
up problems that have always seemed worthy 
of attention and which, in consequence of 
recent events, force themselves again on our 
observation. We know that of all the peoples 
who lived in antiquity in the basin of the Medi- 
terranean the Jewish people is perhaps the only 
one that still exists in name and probably also 
in nature. With an unexampled power of 
resistance it has defied misfortune and ill-treat- 
ment, developed special character traits and, 
incidentally, earned the hearty dislike of all 
other peoples. Whence comes this resistance of the 
Jew, and how his character is connected with his 
fate, are things one would like to understand 
better. 

We may start from one character trait of the 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 167 

Jews which governs their relationship to other 
people. There is no doubt that they have a very 
good opinion of themselves, think themselves 
nobler, on a higher level, superior to the others 
from whom they are also separated by many of 
their customs. 1 With this they are animated by 
a special trust in life, such as is bestowed by the 
secret possession of a precious gift ; it is a kind of 
optimism. Religious people would call it trust in 
God. 

We know the reason of this attitude of theirs 
and what their precious treasure is. They really 
believe themselves to be God's chosen people; 
they hold themselves to be specially near to Him, 
and this is what makes them proud and confident. 
According to trustworthy accounts they behaved 
in Hellenistic times as they do to-day. The 
Jewish character, therefore, even then was what 
it is now, and the Greeks, among whom and 
alongside whom they lived, reacted to the Jewish 
qualities in the same way as their " hosts " do 
to-day. They reacted, so one might think, as if 
they too believed in the preference which the 
Israelites claimed for themselves. When one is 
the declared favourite of the dreaded father one 
need not be surprised that the other brothers and 
sisters are jealous. What this jealousy can lead to 

1 The insult frequently hurled at them in ancient times that they 
were lepers (cf. Manetho) must be read as a projection: " They 
keep apart from us as if we were lepers." 

1 68 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

is exquisitely shown in the Jewish legend of 
Joseph and his brethren. The subsequent course 
of world history seemed to justify this Jewish 
arrogance, for when later on God consented to 
send mankind a Messiah and Redeemer He again 
chose Him from among the Jewish people. The 
other peoples would then have had reason to 
say: " Indeed, they were right; they are God's 
chosen people. " Instead of which it happened 
that the salvation through Jesus Christ brought 
on the Jews nothing but a stronger hatred, while 
the Jews themselves derived no advantage from 
this second proof of being favoured, because they 
did not recognize the Redeemer. 

On the strength of our previous remarks we 
may say that it was the man Moses who stamped 
the Jewish people with this trait, one which 
became so significant to them for all time. He 
enhanced their self-confidence by assuring them 
that they were the chosen people of God; he 
declared them to be holy, and laid on them the 
duty to keep apart from others. Not that the 
other peoples on their part lacked self-confidence. 
Then, just as now, each nation thought itself 
superior to all the others. The self-confidence of 
the Jews, however, became through Moses 
anchored in religion ; it became a part of their 
religious belief. By the particularly close rela- 
tionship to their God they acquired a part of His 
grandeur. And since we know that behind the 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 169 

God who chose the Jews and delivered them from 
Egypt stood the man Moses who achieved that 
deed, ostensibly at God's command, we venture 
to say this: it was one man, the man Moses, 
who created the Jews. To him this people owes 
its tenacity in supporting life; to him, however, 
also much of the hostility which it has met and is 
meeting still. 

3. The Great Man 

How is it possible that one single man can 
develop such extraordinary effectiveness, that he 
can create out of indifferent individuals and 
families one people, can stamp this people with 
its definite character and determine its fate for 
millenia to come ? Is not such an assumption a 
retrogression to the manner of thinking that 
produced creation myths and hero worship, to 
times in which historical writing exhausted itself 
in narrating the dates and life histories of cer- 
tain individuals sovereigns or conquerors ? The 
inclination of modern times tends rather to trace 
back the events of human history to more hidden, 
general and impersonal factors the forcible 
influence of economic circumstances, changes in 
food supply, progress in the use of materials and 
tools, migrations caused by increase in population 
and change of climate. In these factors individuals 
play no other part than that of exponents or 

170 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

representatives of mass tendencies which must 
come to expression and which found that 
expression as it were by chance in such persons. 

These are quite legitimate points of view, but 
they remind us of a significant discrepancy 
between the nature of our thinking apparatus 
and the organization of the world which we are 
trying to apprehend. Our imperative need for 
cause and effect is satisfied when each process 
has one demonstrable cause. In reality, outside 
us this is hardly so; each event seems to be over- 
determined and turns out to be the effect of 
several converging causes. Intimidated by the 
countless complications of events research takes 
the part of one chain of events against another, 
stipulates contrasts that do not exist and which 
are created merely through tearing apart more 
comprehensive relations. 1 

If, therefore, the investigation of one particular 
case demonstrates the outstanding influence of a 
single human personality, our conscience need 
not reproach us that through accepting this 
conclusion we have dealt a blow at the doctrine 
of the significance of those general impersonal 

1 1 would guard myself, however, against a possible misunder- 
standing. I do not mean to say that the world is so complicated 
that every assertion must hit the truth somewhere. No, our 
thinking has preserved the liberty of inventing dependencies and 
connections that have no equivalent in reality. It obviously prizes 
this gift very highly, since it makes such ample use of it inside as 
well as outside of science. 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 171 

factors. In point of fact there is without doubt 
room for both. In the genesis of monotheism we 
cannot, it is true, point to any other external 
factor than those we have already mentioned, 
namely, that this development has to do with the 
establishing of closer connections among differ- 
ent nations and the existence of a great empire. 
We will keep, therefore, a place for " the great 
man " in the chain, or rather in the network, of 
determining causes. It may not be quite useless, 
however, to ask under what condition we bestow 
this title of honour. We may be surprised to find 
that it is not so easy to answer this question. A 
first formulation, which would define as great a 
human being specially endowed with qualities 
we value highly, is obviously in all respects 
unsuitable. Beauty, for instance, and muscular 
strength much as they may be envied do not 
establish a claim to " greatness. 55 There should 
perhaps be mental qualities present, psychical 
and intellectual distinction. In the latter respect 
we have misgivings: a man who has an out- 
standing knowledge in one particular field would 
not be called a great man without any further 
reason. We should certainly not apply the term 
to a master of chess or to a virtuoso on a musical 
instrument, and not necessarily to a distinguished 
artist or a man of science. In such a case we 
should be content to say: he is a great writer, 
painter, mathematician or physicist, a pioneer in 

172 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

this field or that, but we should pause before 
pronouncing him a great man. When we declare, 
for instance, Goethe, Leonardo da Vinci and 
Beethoven, to be great men, then something else 
must move us to do so beyond the admiration of 
their grandiose creations. If it were not for just 
such examples one might very well conceive the 
idea that the title " a great man " is reserved by 
preference for men of action that is to say, 
conquerors, generals and rulers and was in- 
tended as a recognition of the greatness of their 
achievements and the strength of the influence 
that emanated from them. However, this too is 
unsatisfying, and is fully contradicted by our 
condemnation of so many worthless people of 
whom one cannot deny that they exercised a 
great influence on their own and later times. Nor 
can success be chosen as a distinguishing feature 
of greatness if one thinks of the vast number of 
great men who, instead of being successful, 
perished after being dogged by misfortune. 

We should, therefore, tentatively, incline to the 
conclusion that it is hardly worth while to search 
for an unequivocal definition of the concept: 
a great man. It seems to be a rather loosely used 
term, one bestowed without due consideration 
and given to the supernormal development of 
certain human qualities: in doing so we keep 
close to the original literal sense of the word 
" greatness. 55 We may also remember that it is 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 173 

not so much the nature of the great man that 
arouses our interest as the question of what are 
the qualities by virtue of which he influences his 
contemporaries. I propose to shorten this investi- 
gation, however, since it threatens to lead us far 
from our goal. 

Let us agree, therefore, that the great man 
influences his contemporaries in two ways: 
through his personality and through the idea for 
which he stands. This idea may lay stress on an 
old group of wishes in the masses, or point to a 
new aim for their wishes, or again lure the masses 
by other means. Sometimes and this is surely 
the more primitive effect the personality alone 
exerts its influence and the idea plays a decidedly 
subordinate part. Why the great man should 
rise to significance at all we have no doubt 
whatever. We know that the great majority of 
people have a strong need for authority which it 
can admire, to which it can submit, and which 
dominates and sometimes even ill-treats it. We 
have learned from the psychology of the individual 
whence comes this need of the masses. It is the 
longing for the father that lives in each of us from 
his childhood days, for the same father whom the 
hero of legend boasts of having overcome. And 
now it begins to dawn on us that all the features 
with which we furnish the great man are traits 
of the father, that in this similarity lies the essence 
which so far has eluded us- of the great man. 

174 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

The decisiveness of thought, the strength of will, 
the forcefulness of his deeds, belong to the picture 
of the father; above all other things, however, 
the self-reliance and independence of the great 
man: his divine conviction of doing the right 
thing, which may pass into ruthlessness. He must 
be admired, he may be trusted, but one cannot 
help being also afraid of him. We should have taken 
a cue from the word itself; who else but the father 
should have been in childhood the great man ? 

Without doubt it must have been a tremendous 
father imago that stooped in the person of Moses 
to tell the poor Jewish labourers that they were 
his dear children. And the conception of a 
unique, eternal, omnipotent God could not have 
been less overwhelming for them; He who 
thought them worthy to make a bond with Him, 
promised to take care of them if only they 
remained faithful to His worship. Probably they 
did not find it easy to separate the image of the 
man Moses from that of his God, and their 
instinct was right in this, since Moses might very 
well have incorporated into the character of his 
God some of his own traits, such as his irascibility 
and implacability. And when they killed this 
great man they only repeated an evil deed which 
in primaeval times had been a law directed against 
the divine king, and which as we know 
derives from a still older prototype. 1 

1 Frazer. Loc. cit., p. 192. 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 175 

When, on the one hand, the figure of the great 
man has grown into a divine one, it is time to 
remember, on the other hand, that the father 
also was once a child. The great religious idea 
for which the man Moses stood was, as we have 
stated, not his own; he had taken it over from 
his King Ikhnaton. And the latter whose 
greatness as a founder of religion is proved with- 
out a doubt followed perhaps intimations which 
through his mother or by other ways had reached 
him from the near or the far East. 

We cannot trace the network any further. If 
the present argument, however, is correct so far, 
the idea of monotheism must have returned in 
the fashion of a boomerang into the country of 
its origin. It appears fruitless to attempt to 
ascertain what merit attaches to an individual in 
a new idea. Obviously many have taken part in 
its development and made contributions to it. 
On the other hand, it would be wrong to break 
off the chain of causation with Moses and to 
neglect what his successors, the Jewish prophets, 
achieved. Monotheism had not taken root in 
Egypt. The same failure might have happened 
in Israel after the people had thrown off the 
inconvenient and pretentious religion imposed 
on them. From the mass of the Jewish people, 
however, there arose again and again men who 
lent new colour to the fading tradition, renewed 
the admonishments and demands of Moses and 

176 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

did not rest until the lost cause was once more 
regained. In the constant endeavour of centuries, 
and last but not least through two great reforms 
the one before, the other after the Babylonian 
exile there took place the change of the popular 
God Jahve into the God whose worship Moses 
had forced upon the Jews. And it is the proof of 
a special psychical fitness in the mass which had 
become the Jewish people that it could bring 
forth so many persons who were ready to take 
upon themselves the burden of the Mosaic 
religion for the reward of believing that their 
people was a chosen one and perhaps for other 
benefits of a similar order. 

4. The Progress in Spirituality 

To achieve lasting psychical effects in a people it 
is obviously not sufficient to assure them that they 
were specially chosen by God. This assurance 
must be proved if they are to attach belief to it 
and draw their conclusions from that belief. In 
the religion of Moses the exodus served as such 
a proof; God, or Moses in his name, did not tire 
of citing this proof of favour. The feast of the 
Passover was established to keep this event in 
mind, or rather an old feast was endowed with 
this memory. Yet it was only a memory. The 
exodus itself belonged to a dim past. At the 
time the signs of God's favour were meagre 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 177 

enough; the fate of the people of Israel would 
rather indicate his disfavour. Primitive peoples 
used to depose or even punish their gods if they 
did not fulfil their duty of granting them victory, 
fortune and comfort. Kings have often been 
treated similarly to gods in every age ; the ancient 
identity of king and god, i.e. their common 
origin, thus becomes manifest. Modern peoples 
also are in the habit of thus getting rid of their 
kings if the splendour of their reign is dulled by 
defeats accompanied by the loss of land and 
money. Why the people of Israel, however, 
adhered to their God all the more devotedly the 
worse they were treated by Him that is a 
question which we must leave open for the 
moment. 

It may stimulate us to enquire whether the 
religion of Moses had given the people nothing 
else but an increase in self-confidence through the 
consciousness of being " chosen." The next 
element is indeed easily found. Their religion 
also gave to the Jews a much more grandiose 
idea of their God or to express it more soberly 
the idea of a more august God. Whoever believed 
in this God took part in his greatness, so to speak, 
might feel uplifted himself. This may not be 
quite obvious to unbelievers, but it may be 
illustrated by the simile of the high confidence a 
Briton would feel in a foreign land, made unsafe 
by revolt, a confidence in which a subject of some 
M 

178 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

small continental state would be entirely lacking. 
The Briton counts on his Government to send a 
warship if a hair of his head is touched and also 
on the rebels knowing very well that this is so, 
while the small state does not even own a warship. 
The pride in the greatness of the British Empire 
has therefore one of its roots in the consciousness 
of the greater security and protection that a 
British subject enjoys. The same may be true of 
the idea of the great God and since one would 
hardly presume to assist God in his conduct of 
the world pride in the greatness of God goes 
together with that of being " chosen. 55 

Among the precepts of Mosaic religion is one 
that has more significance than is at first obvious. 
It is the prohibition against making an image of 
God, which means the compulsion to worship an 
invisible God. I surmise that in this point Moses 
had surpassed the Aton religion in strictness. 
Perhaps he meant to be consistent; his God was 
to have neither a name nor a countenance. The 
prohibition was perhaps a fresh precaution 
against magic malpractices. If this prohibition 
was accepted, however, it was bound to exercise 
a profound influence. For it signified sub- 
ordinating sense perception to an abstract idea; 
it was a triumph of spirituality over the senses; 
more precisely an instinctual renunciation 1 

1 [I use this phrase (Triebverzicht) as an abbreviation for 
" renouncing the satisfaction of an urge derived from an instinct ". 
Trans.] 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 179 

accompanied by its psychologically necessary 
consequences. 

To make more credible what at first glance 
does not appear convincing we must call to mind 
other processes of similar character in the develop- 
ment of human culture. The earliest among them 
and perhaps the most important we can 
discern only in dim outline in the obscurity of 
primaeval times. Its surprising effects make it 
necessary to conclude that it happened. In our 
children, in adult neurotics as well as in primitive 
people, we find the mental phenomenon which 
we have called the belief in the " omnipotence of 
thoughts." We judge it to be an over-estimation 
of the influence which our mental faculties the 
intellectual ones in this case can exert on the 
outer world by changing it. All magic, the 
predecessor of science, is basically founded on 
these premisses. All magic of words belongs here, 
as does the conviction of the power connected 
with the knowledge and the pronouncing of a 
name. We surmise that " omnipotence of 
thoughts " was the expression of the pride man- 
kind took in the development of language, which 
had brought in its train such an extraordinary 
increase in the intellectual faculties. There 
opened then the new realm of spirituality where 
conceptions, memories, and deductions became 
of decisive importance, in contrast to the lower 
psychical activity which concerned itself with the 

l8o MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

immediate perceptions of the sense organs. It 
was certainly one of the most important stages on 
the way to becoming human. 

Another process of later time confronts us in a 
much more tangible form. Under the influence 
of external conditions which we need not follow 
up here and which in part are also not sufficiently 
known it happened that the matriarchal struc- 
ture of society was replaced by a patriarchal 
one. This naturally brought with it a revolution 
in the existing state of the law. An echo of this 
revolution can still be heard, I think, in the 
Oresteia of ^Eschylos. This turning from the 
mother to the father, however, signifies above all 
a victory of spirituality over the senses, that is to 
say a step forward in culture, since maternity is 
proved by the senses whereas paternity is a 
surmise based on a deduction and a premiss. This 
declaration in favour of the thought process, there- 
by raising it above sense perception, was proved 
to be a step charged with serious consequences. 

Some time between the two cases I have 
mentioned another event took place which shows 
a closer relationship to the ones we have investi- 
gated in the history of religion. Man found that 
he was faced with the acceptance of " spiritual " 
forces, that is to say such forces as cannot be 
apprehended by the senses, particularly not by 
sight, and yet having undoubted, even extremely 
strong, effects. If we may trust to language, it 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION l8l 

was the movement of the air that provided the 
image of spirituality, since the spirit borrows its 
name from the breath of wind (animus, spiritus, 
Hebrew: ruach= smoke). The idea of the soul 
was thus born as the spiritual principle in the 
individual. Observation found the breath of air 
again in the human breath which ceases with 
death ; even to-day we talk of a dying man 
breathing his last. Now the realm of spirits had 
opened for man, and he was ready to endow 
everything in nature with the soul he had dis- 
covered in himself. The whole world became 
animated, and science, coming so much later, had 
enough to do in disestablishing the former state of 
affairs and has not yet finished this task. 

Through the Mosaic prohibition God was raised 
to a higher level of spirituality; the door was 
opened to further changes in the idea of God of 
which we shall speak later. At present another of 
its effects will occupy us. All such progress in 
spirituality results in increasing self-confidence, 
in making people proud so that they feel superior 
to those who have remained in the bondage of the 
senses. We know that Moses had given the Jews 
the proud feeling of being God's chosen people; 
by de -materialising God a new, valuable con- 
tribution was made to the secret treasure of the 
people. The Jews preserved their inclination 
towards spiritual interests. The political mis- 
fortune of the nation taught them to appreciate 

1 82 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

the only possession they had retained, their 
written records, at its true value. Immediately 
after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem 
by Titus, Rabbi Jochanaan ben Sakkai asked for 
permission to open at Jabne the first school for 
the study of the Torah. From now on it was the 
Holy Book, and the study of it, that kept the 
scattered people together. 

So much is generally known and accepted. I 
only wished to add that this whole develop- 
ment, so characteristic of the Jews, had been 
initiated by Moses' prohibition against worship- 
ping God in a visible form. 

The preference which through two thousand 
years the Jews have given to spiritual endeavour 
has, of course, had its effect; it has helped to 
build a dyke against brutality and the inclination 
to violence which are usually found where 
athletic development becomes the ideal of the 
people. The harmonious development of spiritual 
and bodily activity as achieved by the Greeks 
was denied to the Jews. In this conflict their 
decision was at least made in favour of what is 
culturally the more important. 

5. Renunciation versus Gratification 1 

It is not at all obvious why progress in spiritual- 
ity and subordination of the senses should raise 

1 (See footnote on p. 178.) 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 183 

the self-confidence of a person as well as of a 
nation. This seems to presuppose a definite 
standard of value and another person or institu- 
tion who uses it. For an explanation we turn to 
an analogous case in the psychology of the 
individual which we have learned to understand. 
When the Id makes an instinctual demand of 
an erotic or aggressive nature on a human being, 
the most simple and natural response for the Ego, 
which governs the apparatus for thinking and 
muscle innervation, is to satisfy this by an action. 
This satisfaction of the instinct is felt as pleasure 
by the Ego, just as not satisfying this instinct 
would undoubtedly become a source of discom- 
fort. Now it may happen that the Ego eschews 
satisfaction of the instinct because of external 
obstacles, namely, when it realizes that the action 
in question would bring in its course serious 
danger to the Ego. Such a refraining from satis- 
faction, an " instinctual renunciation " because of 
external obstacles as we say, in obedience to 
the reality-principle is never pleasurable. The 
instinctual renunciation would bring about a 
lasting painful tension if we did not succeed in 
diminishing the strength of the instinctual urge 
itself through a displacement of energy. This 
instinctual renunciation may also be forced on 
us, however, by other motives, which we rightly 
call inner ones. In the course of individual 
development a part of the inhibiting forces in the 

184 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

outer world becomes internalized; a standard 
is created in the Ego which opposes the other 
faculties by observation, criticism and prohibition. 
We call this new standard the super -ego. From now 
on the Ego, before undertaking to satisfy the 
instincts, has to consider not only the dangers ol 
the outer world, but also the objections of the 
super-ego, and has therefore more occasion for 
refraining from satisfying the instinct. While, 
however, instinctual renunciation for external 
reasons is only painful, renunciation for internal 
reasons, in obedience to the demands of the super- 
ego, has another economic effect. It brings 
besides the inevitable pain a gain in pleasure to 
the Ego as it were, a substitutive satisfaction. 
The Ego feels uplifted; it is proud of the renuncia- 
tion as of a valuable achievement. We think we 
can follow the mechanism of this gain in pleasure. 
The super-ego is the successor and representative 
of the parents (and educators), who superintended 
the actions of the individual in his first years of 
life; it perpetuates their functions almost without 
a change. It keeps the Ego in lasting dependence 
and exercises a steady pressure. The Ego is 
concerned, just as it was in childhood, to retain 
the love of its master, and it feels his appreciation 
as a relief and satisfaction, his reproaches as 
pricks of conscience. When the Ego has made 
the sacrifice to the super-ego of renouncing an 
instinctual satisfaction, it expects to be rewarded 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 185 

by being loved all the more. The consciousness 
of deserving this love is felt as pride. At a time 
when the authority was not yet internalized as 
super-ego the relation between the threatened loss 
of love and the instinctual demand would have 
been the same. A feeling of security and satis- 
faction results if out of love to one's parents one 
achieves an instinctual renunciation. This good 
feeling could acquire the peculiar narcissistic 
character of pride only after the authority itself 
had become a part of the Ego. 

How does this explanation of gaining satisfac- 
tion through instinctual renunciation help us in 
understanding the processes we wish to study, 
namely, the increase of self-confidence that 
accompanies progress in spirituality ? Apparently 
they help very little, for the circumstances here 
are very different. There is no instinctual 
renunciation, and there is no second person or 
higher standard for whose benefit the sacrifice is 
made. The second statement will soon appear 
doubtful. One might say: the great man is the 
authority for whose sake the effort is made, and 
since the great man achieves this because he is a 
father substitute we need not be surprised if he 
is allotted the role of super -ego in mass psychology. 
This would, therefore, hold good for the man 
Moses in his relationship to the Jewish people. 
In other points, however, there would seem to be 
no proper analogy. The progress in spirituality 

1 86 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

consists in deciding against the direct sense 
perception in favour of the so-called higher 
intellectual processes, that is to say, in favour of 
memories, reflection and deduction. An example 
of this would be the decision that paternity is 
more important than maternity, although the 
former cannot be proved by the senses as the 
latter can. This is why the child has to have the 
father's name and inherit after him. Another 
example would be: our God is the greatest and 
mightiest, although He is invisible like the storm 
and the soul. Rejecting a sexual or aggressive 
instinctual demand seems to be something very 
different from this. In many examples of progress 
in spirituality for instance, in the triumph of 
father -right we cannot point to the authority 
that provides the measure for what is to be valued 
the more highly. In this case it cannot be the 
father himself, since it is only this progress that 
raises him to the rank of an authority. We are, 
therefore, confronted with the phenomenon that 
during the development of mankind the world of 
the senses becomes gradually mastered by spiritu- 
ality, and that man feels proud and uplifted by 
each such step in progress. One does not know, 
however, why this should be so. Still later it 
happens that spirituality itself is overpowered by 
the altogether mysterious emotional phenomenon 
of belief. This is the famous credo quia absurdum, 
and whoever has compassed this regards it as 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 187 

the highest achievement. Perhaps what is com- 
mon to all these psychological situations is some- 
thing else. Perhaps man declares simply that 
the higher achievement is what is more difficult 
to attain, and his pride in it is only narcissism 
heightened by his consciousness of having over- 
come difficulty. 

These considerations are certainly not very 
fruitful, and one might think that they have 
.nothing to do with our investigation into what 
determined the character of the Jewish people. 
This would be only to our advantage, but that 
this train of thought has all the same to do with 
our problem is shown by a fact that will occupy 
us later more extensively. The religion that 
began with the prohibition against making an 
image of its God has developed in the course of 
centuries more and more into a religion of 
instinctual renunciation. Not that it demands 
sexual abstinence; it is content with a consider- 
able restriction of sexual freedom. God, however, 
becomes completely withdrawn from sexuality 
and raised to an ideal of ethical perfection. 
Ethics, however, means restriction of instinctual 
gratification. The Prophets did not tire of main- 
taining that God demands nothing else from his 
people but a just and virtuous life: that is to say, 
abstention from the gratification of all impulses 
that according to our present-day moral stand- 
ards are to be condemned as vicious. And even 

1 88 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

the exhortation to believe in God seems to recede 
in comparison with the seriousness of these 
ethical demands. Instinctual renunciation thus 
appears to play a prominent part in religion, 
although it had not been present in it from the 
beginning. 

Here is the place to make a statement which 
should obviate a misunderstanding. Though it 
may seem that instinctual renunciation, and the 
ethics based on it, do not belong to the essence of 
religion, still they are genetically closely related 
to religion. Totemism, the first form of religion 
of which we know, contains as an indispensable 
part of its system a number of laws and prohibi- 
tions which plainly mean nothing else but 
instinctual renunciation. There is the worship 
of the Totem, which contains the prohibition 
against killing or harming it; exogamy, that is 
to say, the renunciation of the passionately 
desired mothers and sisters of the horde; the 
granting of equal rights for all members of the 
brother horde, i.e. the restriction of the impulse 
to settle their rivalry by brute force. In these 
rules we have to discern the first beginnings of a 
moral and social order. It does not escape our 
notice that here two different motivations come 
into play. The first two prohibitions work in the 
direction of what the murdered father would 
have wished; they, so to speak, perpetuate his 
will. The third law, the one giving equal rights 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 1 89 

to the brothers, ignores the father's wishes. Its 
sense lies in the need of preserving permanently 
the new order which was established after the 
death of the father. Otherwise reversion to the 
former state would have been inevitable. Here 
social laws became separated from others which 
as we might say originated directly from a 
religious context. 

In the abbreviated development of the human 
individual the most important events of that 
process are repeated. Here also it is the parents' 
authority essentially that of the all-powerful 
father who wields the power of punishment 
that demands instinctual renunciation on the 
part of the child and determines what is allowed 
and what is forbidden. What the child calls 
" good " or " naughty " becomes later, when 
society and super-ego take the place of the 
parents, " good, 33 in the sense of moral, or evil, 
virtuous or vicious. But it is still the same thing : 
instinctual renunciation through the presence of 
the authority which replaced and continued that 
of the father. 

Our insight into these problems becomes further 
deepened when we investigate the strange con- 
ception of sanctity. What is it really that appears 
" sacred " compared with other things which we 
respect highly and admit to be important and signi- 
ficant ? On the one hand the connection between 
the sacred and the religious is unmistakable; 

1 9O MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

it is so stressed as to be obvious. Everything 
connected with religion is sacred ; it is the 
very core of sanctity. On the other hand our 
judgement is disturbed by the numerous attempts 
to lay claim to the character of holiness by so 
many other things, persons, institutions and 
procedures that have little to do with religion. 
These endeavours are often plainly tendentious. 
Let us proceed from the feature of prohibition 
which adheres so closely to religion. The sacred 
is obviously something that must not be touched. 
A sacred prohibition has a very strong affective 
note, but actually it has no rational motivation. 
For why should it be such a specially hideous 
crime to commit incest with a daughter or sister, 
so much more so than any other sexual relations ? 
When we ask for an explanation we shall surely 
be told that all our feelings cry out against such 
a crime. Yet all this means is that the prohibition 
is taken to be self-evident, that we do not know 
how to explain it. 

That such an explanation is illusory can easily 
be proved. What is reputed to offend our feelings 
used to be a general custom one might say a 
sacred tradition in the ruling families of the 
Ancient Egyptians and other peoples. It went 
without saying that each Pharaoh found his first 
and foremost wife in his sister, and the successors 
of the Pharaohs, the Greek Ptolemies, did not 
hesitate to follow this example. So far we seem 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 

to discern that incest in this case between 
brother and sister was a prerogative forbidden 
to ordinary mortals and reserved for kings who 
represented the gods on earth. The world of the 
Greek and Germanic myths also took no exception 
to these incestuous relationships. We may surmise 
that the anxious concern for " family " in our 
higher nobility is a remnant of that old privilege, 
and we observe that, as a consequence of inbreed- 
ing continued through many generations in the 
highest social circles, the crowned heads of 
Europe to-day consist in effect of one family. 

To point to the incest of gods, kings and heroes 
helps to dispose of another attempt at explanation, 
namely, the one that would explain the horror of 
incest biologically and reduce it to an instinctive 
knowledge of the harmfulness of inbreeding. It 
is not even certain, however, that there lies any 
danger in inbreeding; let alone that primitive 
races recognized it and guarded against it. The 
uncertainty in determining permitted and pro- 
hibited relationships is another argument against 
presupposing a " natural feeling " as an original 
motive for the horror of incest. 

Our reconstruction of pre-history forces another 
explanation on us. The law of Exogamy, the 
negative expression of which is the fear of incest, 
was the will of the father and continued it after 
his murder. Hence the strength of its affectivity 
and the impossibility of a rational motivation: 

1 92 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

in short its sacredness. I should confidently 
anticipate that an investigation of all other cases oi 
sacred prohibitions would lead to the same result 
as that of the horror of incest, namely that what is 
sacred was originally nothing but the perpetuated 
will of the primaeval father. This would also 
elucidate the ambivalence of the word hitherto 
inexplicable which expresses the conception of 
sacredness. It is the ambivalence which governs 
the relationship to the father. " Sacer " does not 
only mean " sacred/ 5 " blessed/ 5 but also some- 
thing that we can only translate by " accursed/ 5 
" worthy of disgust 55 (" auri sacra fames 55 ). 
The will of the father, however, was not only 
something which one must not touch, which one 
had to hold in high honour, but also something 
which made one shudder because it necessitated 
a painful instinctual renunciation. When we hear 
that Moses " sanctified " his people by introduc- 
ing the custom of circumcision we now understand 
the deep-lying meaning of this pretension. Cir- 
cumcision is the symbolical substitute of castra- 
tion, a punishment which the primaeval father 
dealt his sons long ago out of the fulness of his 
power; and whosoever accepted this symbol 
showed by so doing that he was ready to submit 
to the father's will, although it was at the cost of 
a painful sacrifice. 

To return to ethics : we may say in conclusion 
that a part of its precepts is explained rationally 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 193 

by the necessity to mark off the rights of the 
community to the individual, those of the 
individual to the community, and those of 
individuals to one another. What, however, 
appears mysterious, grandiose and mystically 
self-evident owes its character to its connection 
with religion, its origin from the will of the 
father. 

6. The Truth in Religion 

How we who have little belief envy those who 
are convinced of the existence of a Supreme 
Power, for whom the world holds no problems 
because He Himself has created all its institutions ! 
How comprehensive, exhaustive and final are the 
doctrines of the believers compared with the 
laboured, poor and patchy attempts at explana- 
tion which are the best we can produce. The 
Divine Spirit, which in itself is the ideal of ethical 
perfection, has planted within the soul of men the 
knowledge of this ideal and at the same time the 
urge to strive toward it. They feel immediately 
what is high and noble and what low and mean. 
Their emotional life is measured by the distance 
from their ideal. It affords them high gratifica- 
tion when they in perihelion, so to speak 
come nearer to it; and they are punished by 
severe distress when in aphelion they have 

N 

1 94 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

moved further away from it. All this is so simply 
and unshakably established. We can only regret 
it if certain experiences of life and observations of 
nature have made it impossible to accept the 
hypothesis of such a Supreme Being. As if the 
world had not enough problems, we are con- 
fronted with the task of finding out how those who 
have faith in a Divine Being could have acquired 
it, and whence this belief derives the enormous 
power that enables it to overwhelm Reason and 
Science. 1 

Let us return to the more modest problem that 
has occupied us so far. We set out to explain 
whence comes the peculiar character of the Jewish 
people which in all probability is what has 
enabled that people to survive until to-day. We 
found that the man Moses created their character 
by giving to them a religion which heightened 
their self-confidence to such a degree that they 
believed themselves to be superior to all other 
peoples. They survived by keeping aloof from 
the others. Admixture of blood made little 
difference, since what kept them together was 
something ideal the possession they had in 
common of certain intellectual and emotional 
values. The Mosaic religion had this effect 
because (i) it allowed the people to share in the 
grandeur of its new conception of God, (2) 

1 (An allusion to the passage in Faust " Verachte nur Vernunft 
und Wissenschaft." Transl.) 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 195 

because it maintained that the people had been 
" chosen " by this great God and was destined 
to enjoy the proofs of his special favour, and 
(3) because it forced upon the people a pro- 
gress in spirituality which, significant enough 
in itself, further opened the way to respect for 
intellectual work and to further instinctual 
renunciations. 

This then is the conclusion we have attained, 
but, although I do not wish to retract anything 
I have said before, I cannot help feeling that it is 
somehow not altogether satisfactory. The cause 
does not, so to speak, accord with the result. 
The fact we are trying to explain seems to be 
incommensurate with everything we adduce by 
way of explanation. Is it possible that all our 
investigations have so far discovered not the 
whole motivation, but only a superficial layer, and 
that behind this lies hidden another very signifi- 
cant component ? Considering how extraordin- 
arily complicated all causation in life and history 
is we should have been prepared for something 
of that kind. 

The path to this deeper motivation starts at a 
certain passage in the previous discussion. The 
religion of Moses did not achieve its effects 
immediately, but in a strangely indirect manner. 
This does not mean that it did not itself produce 
the effect. It took a long time, many centuries, 
to do so; that goes without saying where the 

ig6 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

development of a people's character is concerned. 
Our modification, however, refers to a fact which 
we have taken from the history of Jewish religion 
or, if one prefers, introduced into it. We said 
that the Jewish people shook off the religion of 
Moses after a certain time; whether they did so 
completely or whether they retained some of its 
precepts we cannot tell. In accepting the sup- 
position that during the long period of the fight 
for Canaan, and the struggles with the peoples 
settled there, the Jahve religion did not sub- 
stantially differ from the worship of the other 
Baalim, we stand on historical ground, in spite of 
all the later tendentious attempts to obscure this 
shaming state of affairs. The religion of Moses, 
however, had not perished. A sort of memory of 
it had survived, obscured and distorted, but 
perhaps supported by individual members of the 
Priest caste through the ancient scripts. It was 
this tradition of a great past that continued to 
exert its effect from the background; it slowly 
attained more and more power over the minds of 
the people, and at last succeeded in changing the 
god Jahve into the God of Moses and in bringing 
again to life the abandoned religion Moses had 
instituted centuries ago. 

In an earlier chapter of this book we have dis- 
cussed the hypothesis that would seem to be 
inevitable if we are to find comprehensible such 
an achievement on the part of tradition. 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 197 

7. The Return of the Repressed 

There are a number of similar processes among 
those which the analytic investigation of mental 
life has made known to us. Some of them are 
termed pathological; others are counted among 
the varieties of the normal. This matters little, 
however, for the limits between the two are not 
strictly defined and the mechanisms are to a 
certain extent the same. It is much more impor- 
tant whether the changes in question take place 
in the ego itself or whether they confront it as 
alien; in the latter case they are called symptoms. 
From the fullness of the material at my disposal 
I will choose cases that concern the formation of 
character. 

A young girl had developed into the most 
decided contrast to her mother; she had culti- 
vated all the qualities she missed in her mother 
and avoided all those that reminded her of her 
mother. We may add that in former years she 
had identified herself with her mother like any 
other female child and had now come to oppose 
this identification energetically. When this girl 
married, however, and became a wife and mother 
in her turn, we are surprised to find that she 
became more and more like the mother towards 
whom she felt so inimical, until at last the mother 

198 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

identification she had overcome had once more 
unmistakably won the day. The same thing 
happens with boys, and even the great Goethe, 
who in his Sturm und Drang period certainly did 
not respect his pedantic and stiff father very 
highly, developed in old age traits that belonged 
to his father's character. This result will stand 
out more strikingly where the contrast between 
the two persons is more pronounced. A young 
man, whose fate was determined by his having 
to grow up with a good-for-nothing father, 
developed at first in spite of the father into a 
capable, trustworthy and honourable man. In 
the prime of life his character changed and from 
now on he behaved as if he had taken this same 
father as his example. So as not to lose the 
connection with our topic we must keep in mind 
that at the beginning of such a process there 
always exists an identification with the father 
from early childhood days. This gets repudiated, 
even over -compensated, and in the end again 
comes to light. 

It has long since become common knowledge 
that the experience of the first five years of child- 
hood exert a decisive influence on our life, one 
which later events oppose in vain. Much could 
be said about how these early experiences resist 
all efforts of more mature years to modify them, 
but this would not be relevant. It may not be so 
well known, however, that the strongest obsessive 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 199 

influence derives from those experiences which 
the child undergoes at a time when we have 
reason to believe his psychical apparatus to be 
incompletely fitted for accepting them. The fact 
itself cannot be doubted, but it seems so strange 
that we might try to make it easier to understand 
by a simile; the process may be compared to a 
photograph, which can be developed and made 
into a picture after a short or long interval. Here 
I may point out, however, that an imaginative 
writer, with the boldness permitted to such 
writers, made this disconcerting discovery before 
me. E. T. A. Hoffmann used to explain the 
wealth of imaginative figures that offered them- 
selves to him for his stories by the quickly 
changing pictures and impressions he had received 
during a journey in a post-chaise, lasting for 
several weeks, while he was still a babe at his 
mother's breast. What a child has experienced 
and not understood by the time he has reached 
the age of two he may never again remember, 
except in his dreams. Only through psycho- 
analytic treatment will he become aware of those 
events. At any time in later years, however, they 
may break into his life with obsessive impulsive- 
ness, direct his actions, force him to like or dislike 
people and often decide the choice of his love- 
object by a preference that so often cannot be 
rationally defended. The two points that touch 
on our problem are unmistakable. They are, 

2OO MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

first, the remoteness of time, 1 which is considered 
here as the really decisive factor, as, for instance, 
in the special state of memory that in these 
childhood experiences we class as " unconscious/ 5 
In this feature we expect to find an analogy with 
the state of mind that we ascribe to tradition when 
it is active in the mental emotional life of a people. 
It was not easy, it is true, to introduce the con- 
ception of the unconscious into mass psychology. 
Contributions to the phenomena we are looking 
for are regularly made by the mechanisms that 
lead to a neurosis. Here also the decisive experi- 
ences in early childhood exert a lasting influence, 
yet in this case the stress falls not on the time, but 
on the process opposing that event, the reaction 
against it. Schematically expressed it is so. As 
a consequence of a certain experience there arises 
an instinctual demand which claims satisfaction. 
The Ego forgoes this satisfaction, either because it 
is paralysed by the excessiveness of the demand 
or because it recognizes in it a danger. The first 
of these reasons is the original one ; both end in 
the avoidance of a dangerous situation. The Ego 
guards against this danger by repression. The 

1 Here also a poet may speak for us. To explain his attachment 
he imagines 

Ach du warst in abgelebten Zeiten 
Meine Schwester oder meine Frau. 

Goethe, Vol. IV of the Weimar Edition, p. 97. 

(For in previous lives we both have passed through 
You, Love, were my sister or my wife.) 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 201 

excitation becomes inhibited in one way or other; 
the incitement, with the observations and percep- 
tions belonging to it, is forgotten. This, however, 
does not bring the process to an end; either the 
instinct has kept its strength, or it will regain it 
or it is reawakened by a new situation. It renew* 
its claim and since the way to normal satisfac- 
tion is barred by what we may call the scar tissue 
of repression it gains at some weak point ne\\ 
access to a so-called substitutive satisfaction 
which now appears as a symptom, without the 
acquiescence and also without the comprehensior 
of the ego. All phenomena of symptom -formatior 
can be fairly described as " the return of the 
repressed." The distinctive character of them 
however, lies in the extensive distortion the 
returning elements have undergone, comparec 
with their original form. Perhaps the objection 
will be raised here that in this last group of fact* 
we have deviated too much from the similarity 
with tradition. We shall feel no regret, however, 
if this has led us nearer to the problems oi 
instinctual renunciation. 

8. The Historical Truth 

We have made all these psychological digressions 
to make it more credible that the religion oJ 
Moses exercised influence on the Jewish people 
Only when it had become a tradition. We have 

2O2 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

scarcely achieved more than a probability. Yet 
let us assume we have succeeded in proving this 
conclusively; the impression would still remain 
that we had satisfied only the qualitative factor 
of our task, not the quantitative as well. To all 
matters concerning the creation of a religion 
and certainly to that of the Jewish one pertains 
something majestic, which has not so far been 
covered by our explanations. Some other element 
should have part in it: one that has few analogies 
and nothing quite like it, something unique and 
commensurate with that which has grown out of 
it, something like religion itself. 

Let us see if we can approach our subject from 
the reverse side. We understand that primitive 
man needs a God as creator of the world, as head 
of his tribe, and as one who takes care of him. 
This God takes his place behind the dead fathers 
of whom tradition still has something to relate. 
Man in later times of our time, for instance 
behaves similarly. He also remains infantile and 
needs protection, even when he is fully grown; 
he feels he cannot relinquish the support of his 
God. So much is indisputable, but it is not so 
easily to be understood why there must be only 
one God, why just the progress from Henotheism 
to Monotheism acquires such an overwhelming 
significance. It is true, as we have mentioned 
before, that the believer participates in the 
greatness of his God and the more powerful the 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 203 

Jod the surer the protection he can bestow. The 
power of a God, however, need not presuppose 
his being an only God: many peoples only 
glorified their chief god the more if he ruled over 
a multitude of inferior gods; he was not the less 
great because there were other gods than He. 
It also meant sacrificing some of the intimate 
relationship if the God became universal and 
cared equally for all lands and peoples. One had, 
so to speak, to share one's God with strangers and 
had to compensate oneself for that by believing 
that one was favoured by him. The point could 
be made that the conception of an Only God 
signifies a step forward in spirituality; this point, 
however, cannot be estimated so very highly. 

The true believer knows of a way adequately to 
fill in this obvious gap in motivation. He says 
that the idea of an Only God has had this over- 
whelming effect on mankind because it is part of 
eternal truth, which, hidden for so long, has at 
last come to light and has swept all before it. 
We have to admit that at last we have an element 
of an order commensurate to the greatness of 
the subject as well as to that of the success of its 
influence. 

I also should like to accept this solution. 
However, I have my misgivings. The religious 
argument is based on an optimistic and idealistic 
premiss. The human intellect has not shown 
itself elsewhere to be endowed with a very good 

2O4 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

scent for truth, nor has the human mind dis- 
played any special readiness to accept truth. On 
the contrary, it is the general experience that the 
human intellect errs very easily without our 
suspecting it at all, and that nothing is more 
readily believed than what regardless of the 
truth meets our wishes and illusions half-way. 
That is why our agreement needs modifying. 
I too should credit the believer's solution with 
containing the truth; it is not, however, the 
material truth, but an historical truth. I would 
claim the right to correct a certain distortion 
which this truth underwent on its re -emergence. 
That is to say : I do not believe that one supreme 
great God " exists " to-day, but I believe that in 
primaeval times there was one person who must 
needs appear gigantic and who, raised to the 
status of a deity, returned to the memory of men. 
Our supposition was that the religion of Moses 
was discarded and partly forgotten and that later 
on it forced itself on to the notice of the people 
as a tradition. I make the assumption that this 
process was the repetition of an earlier one. 
When Moses gave to his people the conception 
of an Only God it was not an altogether new 
idea, for it meant the re -animation of primaeval 
experience in the human family that had long 
ago faded from the conscious memory of mankind. 
The experience was such an important one, how- 
ever, and had produced, or at least prepared, 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 205 

such far-reaching changes in the life of man, that, 
I cannot help thinking, it must have left some 
permanent trace in the human soul something 
comparable to a tradition. 

The psycho-analyses of individuals have taught 
us that their earliest impressions, received at a 
time when they were hardly able to talk, manifest 
themselves later in an obsessive fashion, although 
those impressions themselves are not consciously 
remembered. We feel that the same must hold 
good for the earliest experiences of mankind. 
One result of this is the emergence of the con- 
ception of one great God. It must be recognized 
as a memory, a distorted one, it is true, but never- 
theless a memory. It has an obsessive quality; 
it simply must be believed. As far as its distortion 
goes it may be called a delusion; in so far as it 
brings to light something from the past it must 
be called truth. The psychiatric delusion also 
contains a particle of truth; the patient's con- 
viction issues from this and extends to the whole 
delusional fabrication surrounding it. 

The following pages contain a scarcely altered 
repetition of what I said in the first section. In 
1912 I tried in my book Totem and Taboo to 
reconstruct the ancient situation from which all 
these effects issued. In that book I made use of 
certain theoretical reflections of Charles Darwin, 
Atkinson, and especially Robertson Smith, and 
combined them with findings and suggestions 

2O6 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

from psycho -analytic practice. From Darwin I 
borrowed the hypothesis that men originally 
lived in small hordes ; each of the hordes stood 
under the rule of an older male, who governed 
by brute force, appropriated all the females and 
belaboured or killed all the young males, includ- 
ing his own sons. From Atkinson I received the 
suggestion that this patriarchal system came to an 
end through a rebellion of the sons, who united 
against the father, overpowered him and together 
consumed his body. Following Robertson Smith's 
totem theory I suggested that this horde, pre- 
viously ruled by the father, was followed by a 
totemistic brother clan. In order to be able to 
live in peace with one another the victorious 
brothers renounced the women for whose sake 
they had killed the father, and agreed to practise 
exogamy. The power of the father was broken 
and the families regulated by matriarchy. The 
ambivalence of the sons towards the father 
remained in force during the whole further 
development. Instead of the father a certain 
animal was declared the totem; it stood for their 
ancestor and protecting spirit, and no one was 
allowed to hurt or kill it. Once a year, however, 
the whole clan assembled for a feast at which the 
otherwise revered totem was torn to pieces and 
eaten. No one was permitted to abstain from this 
feast; it was the solemn repetition of the father- 
murder, in which social order, moral laws and 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 2O7 

religion had had their beginnings. The cor- 
respondence of the totem feast (according to 
Robertson Smith's description) with the Christian 
Communion has struck many authors before 
me. 

I still adhere to this sequence of thought. I 
have often been vehemently reproached for not 
changing my opinions in later editions of my 
book, since more recent ethnologists have without 
exception discarded Robertson Smith's theories 
and have in part replaced them by others which 
differ extensively. I would reply that these 
alleged advances in science are well known to me. 
Yet I have riot been convinced either of their 
correctness or of Robertson Smith's errors. Con- 
tradiction is not always refutation; a new theory 
does not necessarily denote progress. Above all, 
however, I am not an ethnologist, but a psycho- 
analyst. It was my good right to select from 
ethnological data what would serve me for my 
analytic work. The writings of the highly gifted 
Robertson Smith provided me with valuable 
points of contact with the psychological material 
of analysis and suggestions for the use of it. I 
cannot say the same of the work of his opponents. 

9. The Historical Development 

I cannot reproduce here the contents of Totem 
and Taboo, but I must try to account for the long 

2O8 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

interval that took place between the events 
which we suggested happened in primaeval times 
and the victory of monotheism in historical times. 
After the combination of brother clan, matriarchy, 
exogamy and totemism had been established 
there began a development which may be 
described as a slow " return of the repressed. 55 
The term " repressed 55 is here used not in its 
technical sense. Here I mean something past, 
vanished and overcome in the life of a people, 
which I venture to treat as equivalent to repressed 
material in the mental life of the individual. In 
what psychological form the past existed during 
its period of darkness we cannot as yet tell. It is 
not easy to translate the concepts of individual 
psychology into mass psychology, and I do not 
think that much is to be gained by introducing 
the concept of a " collective " unconscious the 
content of the unconscious is collective anyhow, 
a general possession of mankind. So in the mean- 
time the use of analogies must help us out. The 
processes we study here in the life of a people are 
very similar to those we know from psycho - 
pathology, but still they are not quite the same. 
We must conclude that the mental residue of those 
primaeval times has become a heritage which, 
with each new generation, needs only to be 
awakened, not to be re-acquired. We may think 
here of the example of speech symbolism, which 
certainly seems to be inborn. It originates in the 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 2OQ 

time of speech development, and it is familiar to 
all children without their having been specially 
instructed. It is the same in all peoples in spite 
of the differences in language. What we may still 
lack in certainty we may acquire from other 
results of psycho -analytic investigations. We 
learn that our children in a number of significant 
relationships do not react as their own experiences 
would lead us to expect, but instinctively, like 
animals; this is explicable only by phylogenetic 
inheritance. 

The return of the repressed proceeds slowly; 
it certainly does not occur spontaneously, but 
under the influence of all the changes in the 
conditions of life that abound throughout the 
history of civilization. I can give here neither a 
survey of the conditions on which it depends nor 
any more than a scanty enumeration of the stages 
in which the return proceeds. The father became 
again the head of the family, but he was no 
longer omnipotent as the father of the primaeval 
horde had been. In clearly recognizable transi- 
tional stages the totem animal was ousted by the 
god. The god, in human form, still carried at 
first the head of an animal ; later on he was wont 
to assume the guise of the same animal. Still 
later the animal became sacred to him and his 
favourite companion or else he was reputed to 
have slain the animal, when he added its name 
to his own. Between the totem animal and the 

2IO MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

god the hero made his appearance; this was 
often an early stage of deification. The idea of a 
Highest Being seems to have appeared early; at 
first it was shadowy and devoid of any connection 
with the daily interests of mankind. As the tribes 
and peoples were knit together into larger unities 
the gods also became organized into families and 
hierarchies. Often one of them was elevated to 
be the overlord of gods and men. The next step, 
to worship only one God, was taken hesitatingly, 
and at long last the decision was made to 
concede all power to one God only and not to 
suffer any other gods beside him. Only then was 
the grandeur of the primaeval father restored; 
the emotions belonging to him could now be 
repeated. 

The first effect of the reunion with what men 
had long missed and yearned for was overwhelm- 
ing and exactly as the tradition of the law -giving 
on Mount Sinai depicts it. There was admiration, 
awe and gratitude that the people had found 
favour in His eyes: the religion of Moses knows of 
only these positive feelings towards the Father - 
God. The conviction that His power was 
irresistible, the subjection to His will, could not 
have been more absolute with the helpless, 
intimidated son of the father of the horde than 
they were here; indeed, they become fully com- 
prehensible only by the transformation into the 
primitive and infantile milieu. Infantile feelings 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 211 

are far more intense and inexhaustibly deep than 
are those of adults; only religious ecstasy can 
bring back that intensity. Thus a transport of 
devotion to God is the first response to the return 
of the Great Father. 

The direction of this Father religion was thus 
fixed for all time, but its development was not 
thereby finished. Ambivalency belongs to the 
essence of the father -son relationship ; it had to 
happen that in the course of time the hostility 
should be stirred which in ancient times had 
spurred the sons to slay their admired and 
dreaded father. In the religion of Moses itself 
there was no room for direct expression of the 
murderous father-hate. Only a powerful reaction 
to it could make its appearance: the conscious- 
ness of guilt because of that hostility, the bad 
conscience because one had sinned against God 
and continued so to sin. This feeling of guiltiness, 
which the Prophets incessantly kept alive and 
which soon became an integral part of the 
religious system itself, had another, superficial, 
motivation which cleverly veiled the true origin 
of the feeling. The people met with hard times; 
the hopes based on the favour of God were slow in 
being fulfilled; it became not easy to adhere to 
the illusion, cherished above all else, that they 
were God's chosen people. If they wished to keep 
happiness, then the consciousness of guilt because 
they themselves were such sinners offered a 

212 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

welcome excuse for God's severity. They deserved 
nothing better than to be punished by Him, 
because they did not observe the laws; the need 
for satisfying this feeling of guilt, which coming 
from a much deeper source was insatiable, made 
them render their religious precepts ever and ever 
more strict, more exacting, but also more petty. 
In a new transport of moral asceticism the Jews 
imposed on themselves constantly increasing 
instinctual renunciation, and thereby reached 
at least in doctrine and precepts ethical heights 
that had remained inaccessible to the other 
peoples of antiquity. Many Jews regard these 
aspirations as the second main characteristic, and 
the second great achievement, of their religion. 
Our investigation is intended to show how it is 
connected with the first one, the conception of 
the one and only God. The origin, however, of 
this ethics in feelings of guilt, due to the repressed 
hostility to God, cannot be gainsaid. It bears the 
characteristic of being never concluded and never 
able to be concluded with which we are familiar 
in the reaction -formations of the obsessional 
neurosis. 

The further development transcends Judaism. 
Other elements re-emerging from the drama 
enacted around the person of the primaeval 
father were in no way to be reconciled with the 
Mosaic religion. The consciousness of guilt in 
that epoch was no longer restricted to the Jews; 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 213 

it had seized all Mediterranean peoples as a 
vague discomfort, a premonition of misfortune 
the reason for which no one knew. Modern 
history speaks of the ageing of antique culture. 
I would surmise that it has apprehended only 
some of the casual and adjuvant causes for the 
mood of dejection then prevailing among the 
peoples. The lightening of that oppression 
proceeded from the Jews. Although food for the 
idea had been provided by many suggestive 
hints from various quarters, it was, nevertheless, 
in the mind of a Jew, Saul of Tarsus, who as a 
Roman citizen was called Paul, that the percep- 
tion dawned: "it is because we killed God the 
Father that we are so unhappy.' 5 It is quite clear 
to us now why he could grasp this truth in no 
other form but in the delusional guise of the glad 
tidings: " we have been delivered from all guilt 
since one of us laid down his life to expiate our 
guilt. 55 In this formulation the murder of God 
was, of course, not mentioned, but a crime that 
had to be expiated by a sacrificial death could 
only have been murder. Further, the connection 
between the delusion and the historical truth was 
established by the assurance that the sacrificial 
victim was the Son of God. The strength which 
this new faith derived from its source in historical 
truth enabled it to overcome all obstacles; in the 
place of the enrapturing feeling of being the 
chosen ones there came now release through 

214 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

salvation.^The fact of the father-murder, how- 
ever, had on its return to the memory of mankind 
to overcome greater obstacles than the one which 
constituted the essence of monotheism; it had to 
undergo a more extensive distortion. The un- 
mentionable crime was replaced by the tenet of 
the somewhat shadowy conception of orig- 
inal sin. 

Original sin and salvation through sacrificial 
death became the basis of the new religion 
founded by Paul. The question whether there 
was a leader and instigator to the murder among 
the horde of brothers who rebelled against the 
primaeval father, or whether that figure was 
created later by poets who identified themselves 
with the hero and was then incorporated into 
tradition, must remain unanswered. After the 
Christian doctrine had burst the confines of 
Judaism, it absorbed constituents from many 
other sources, renounced many features of pure 
monotheism and adopted in many particulars 
the ritual of the other Mediterranean peoples. 
It was as if Egypt had come to wreak her venge- 
ance on the heirs of Ikhnaton. The way in which 
the new religion came to terms with the ancient 
ambivalency in the father -son relationship is 
noteworthy. Its main doctrine, to be sure, was 
the reconciliation with God the Father, the 
expiation of the crime committed against Him ; 
but the other side of the relationship manifested 

HIS PEOPLE AND MONOTHEISTIC RELIGION 215 

itself in the Son who had taken the guilt on his 
shoulders becoming God himself beside the 
Father and in truth in place of the Father. 
Originally a Father religion, Christianity became 
a Son religion. The fate of having to displace the 
Father it could not escape. 

Only a part of the Jewish people accepted the 
new doctrine. Those who refused to do so are 
still called Jews. Through this decision they are 
still more sharply separated from the rest of the 
world than they were before. They had to suffer 
the reproach from the new religious community 
which besides Jews included Egyptians, Greeks, 
Syrians, Romans and lastly also Teutons that 
they had murdered God. In its full form this 
reproach would run: " they will not admit that 
they killed God, whereas we do and are cleansed 
from the guilt of it. 55 Then it is easy to understand 
what truth lies behind this reproach. Why the 
Jews were unable to participate in the progress 
which this confession to the murder of God 
betokened (in spite of all its distortion) might 
well be the subject of a special investigation. 
Through this they have, so to speak, shouldered 
a tragic guilt. They have been made to suffer 
severely for it. 

Our research has perhaps thrown some light 
on the question how the Jewish people acquired 
the qualities that characterize it. The problem 
how they could survive until to-day as an entity 

2l6 MOSES AND MONOTHEISM 

has not proved so easy to solve. One cannot, 
however, reasonably demand or expect exhaustive 
answers of such enigmas. All that I can offer is a 
simple contribution, and one which should be 
appraised with due regard to the critical limita- 
tions I have already mentioned. 

GLOSSARY 

^Etiology causation, particularly of disease. 
Affect pertaining to the feeling bases of emotion. 
Ambivalence the co-existence of opposed feelings, par- 
ticularly love and hate. 
Amnesia failure of memory. 
Cathexis the process whereby ideas and mental attitudes 

are invested with a " charge " of emotion. 
Imago a German periodical devoted to the non-medical 

application of psycho-analysis. 
Instinctual pertaining to instinct. 
Masochism the obtaining of sexual pleasure in conjunction 

with suffering. 
Obsessional Neurosis a neurosis characterized by the 

alternation of obsessive (compulsive) ideas and doubts. 
Onanism auto-erotic activity, the commonest example 

being masturbation. 

Phylo-genetic pertaining to racial development. 
Reaction -formation development of a character trait that 

keeps in check and conceals another one, usually of 

the exactly opposite kind. 

Regression reversion to an earlier kind of mental life. 
Repetition-compulsion the tendency to repeat, which 

Freud considers the most fundamental characteristic of 

the mind. 
Repression the keeping of unacceptable ideas from 

consciousness, i.e. in the " unconscious." 
Sadism the obtaining of sexual pleasure through the 

infliction of suffering. 
Super-ego the self-criticizing part of the mind out of 

which the conscience develops. 
Trayma injury, bodily or mental. 

217 

INDEX 

Aaron: 53. 

Abraham: 44, 72. 

Adonai: 42, 64, 65. 

Adonis: 42. 

JEgyptische Religion, Die: 37. 

^Eschylos: 180. 

^Etiology of the neuroses: 117, 

118, 119. 
After-life: 33. 
Agade: 17. 
Akhetaton (see also Ikhnaton) : 39, 

40. 

Akki: 17. 

Alexander the Great: 115. 
Allah: 149. 
Alphabet, first: 69. 
Amalek: 101. 
Ambivalency : 211,214. 
Amenhotep III: 36, 38. 
Amenhotep IV (see also Ikhnaton) : 

34, 35, 37, 38, 96- 
Amon: 13, 36, 38, 39, 41, 142. 
Amon-Re: 32. 
Amphion: 17. 
Ancestor cults: 149. 
Anti-semitism: 145, 146, 147. 
Aramcans: 48. 

Archaic heritage: 157, 158, 161. 
Astruc, Jean: 68. 
Athene: 38, 74. 
Atkinson: 130, 205, 206. 
Aton (or Atum) : 36, 37, 42, 46, 

58, 67, 96, 102, 103. 
Aton religion: 39, 40, 41, 43, 50, 

51, 81, 96, 97, 98, 113, 142, 178, 
Auerbach: 68, 102. 
Azupirani: 17. 

Baalim: 1 13, 196. 
Babylon: 17. 

Beethoven: 172. 

Bes: 32. 

Birth: 18, 19. 

Breasted,). H.: 13, 14, 35, 37, 38, 

41, 81. 

Brother clan: 206. 
Buonaparte, Napoleon: 14. 

Cambridge Ancient History: 35. 
Canaan: 44, 48, 61, 62, 74, 78, 

79, ?4, 985 99, ioi , 196. 
Cannibalism: 131, 132. 
Castration: 131, 147, 192. 
threat of : 127. 
complex: 136, 159. 
Cathexis: 156. 
Cerebral-anatomy: 156. 
Chamisso, Adelbert von: 14. 
Chosen people : 211. 
Christ: 21, 94, 140, 141, 162. 
Christian Communion: 135,141. 
Evangelists : 137. 
Religion: 142. 
Circumcision: 44, 45, 46, 48, 49, 

50, 56, 64, 65, 71, 72, 98, 100, 

141, 147, 192. 

" Collective " unconscious : 208. 
Cologne: 146. 
Compromise : no. 
Compulsiveness : 123. 
Counter-cathexis : 152, 153. 
Credo quia absurdum: 186. 
Crete: 74. 
Cyrus: 17, 20. 

Darwin, Charles: 108, 130, 205, 

206. 

Darwinian doctrine: 109. 
David, King: 68,69. 
Da Vinci, Leonardo: 172. 

3*9 

22O 

INDEX 

Dawn of Conscience, The: 13, 14, 

35, 37, 4'> 81. 
Delusions: 137. 
Deuteronomy: 68. 
Development of the neuroses : 1 29. 
Disraeli, Benjamin: 14. 
Distortion : 113,214. 

E: 65. 

Ebjatar: 68. 

Ego: 109, 122, 125, 154, 155, 200. 

Egyptian monotheism: 35, 107. 

religion: 31, 32, 33, 34, 

36,41,43,46. 
Egyptian Religion, The: 50. 
"Elders of Zion": 138. 
Elohim: 65. 
Elohist: 68, 101. 
Encyclopedia Britannica, The: 68. 
Erman, A.: 37, 50. 
Ethiopia: 47, 53. 
Euphrates: 17. 
Evans, A. J.: 74, 114. 
Evolution: 108. 
Exile: 41, 69. 
Exodus: 30, 47, 48, 52, 54, 57, 60, 

65, 66, 71, 78, 98, 99, 

100, 110, 176. 
Book of: 12, 71, 79. 
Exogamy: 132, 188, 191, 206, 

208. 

Exposure myth: 21, 22, 23. 
Ezra: 69, 74. 

Falcon: 40. 
Falsification : 1 1 1 . 
Family romance : 1 8. 
Father-hate: 211. 

-murder: 131, 162, 206, 
214. 

-religion: 141. 

-son-relationship : 211,214. 

substitute: 143. 

Feelings of guilt: 138,143,212. 
Finns: 114. 

Fixation: 122, 123, 124, 125, 136. 
Flaubert: 80. 
Frazer, Sir James: 144. 

Galton, A.: 16. 
Genesis of the neuroses : 1 1 8. 
German National Socialism: 90, 
148. 

German people: 90,114. 
Gilgamesh: 17. 
Godfrey: 74. 
Gods of Greece, The: 162. 
Goethe: 144, 172, 198, 200. 
Golden Age, the: 115. 
Golden Bough, The : 1 44. 
Golden calf, the: 77. 
Gosen: 47. 

Gospel of salvation: 139. 
Greek people : 1 05, 1 1 3, 1 1 4. 
Gressmann, Hugo: 59, 65. 

Hannibal: 74. 

Haremhab: 39, 48, 78, 97. 

Hebrews : 48, 80. 

Heine: 50. 

Heliopolis: 35, 37, 42, 96. 

Henotheism: 202. 

Heracles: 17. 

Heretic King: 35, 97. 

Hero: 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 

24, 58, 140, 141, 214. 
Herod, King: 21. 
Herodotus: 44, 49, 56, 69. 
Hexateuch: 65, 68. 
History of Egypt, The: 13, 35, 38, 

39- 

Hoffmann, E. T. A.: 199. 
Holy People: 49. 
Homer: 114, 115. 
Horror of swine: 49. 
Horus: 49. 
Hosea: 59. 
Hyksos period: 47. 

Id: 154, 155, 156, 162. 

Identification: 127, 129, 140. 

Ikhnaton: 38, 39, 40, 41, 43, 46, 
47> 4**, 50, 5 J > 5*> 76, 81, 9 6 > 97, 
98, 101, 104, 142, 175, 214. 

Imago: 15, 89, 164. 

Imperialism: 36, 95, 105. 

Inbreeding: 191. 

Incest: 132. 

fear of: 191. 
taboo of: 190. 

India: 50. 

Infantile amnesia: 120, 121. 

Instinctual renunciation : 178, 183, 
185, 187, 189, 192, 

2OI, 212. 

satisfaction: 184. 

INDEX 

221 

Isaac: 72. 
Isis: 49. 

Israel in der Wttste: 144. 

Israeliten und ihre NachbarMmme, 

Die: 55, 56, 57, 58. 
Istar: 17. 
Italian people: go. 

J: 65,68. 

Jabne: 182. 

Jacob: 44, 72. 

Jahu: 102. 

Jahve: 37, 55, 57, 58, 61, 63, 64, 
65, 66, 67, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 77> 
80, 81, 82, 98, 100, 102, 103, 
104, 105, 106, 113, 116, 149, 
176, 196. 

Jahvist: 68, 100, 101. 

JE: 68. 

Jehu: 65. 

Jerusalem: 102. 

Jethro: 56, 66. 

Jewish character: 167,194. 
god: 37. 
history: 84, 85, 100, 105, 

1 06. 

monotheism: 42, 51, 95, 

107, 109. 

people: 20, 21, 24, 29, 31, 
49> 5, 59, 60, 61, 62, 73, 
76, 79, 83, 99, 101, 102, 
103, no, 112, 137, 138, 
i39> i43> J 45> 1 66, 1 68, 
175, 176, 185, 187, 194, 
196, 201, 215. 
religion: 31,33,41,485465 
82, 83, 106, 1 10, 112, 
116, 139, 141, 142, 143, 
148, 149, 196, 202. 
tradition: 50, 99. 

Jochanaan: 65, 74. 

Jochanaan ben Sakkai, Rabbi: 
182. 

Jordan: 60, 61, 66. 

Joseph : 1 68. 

Josephus, Flavius: 20, 47, 52. 

Joshua: 56, 65. 

Judisches Lexikon : 12. 

Jupiter: 73. 

Justice: 81, 82, 104. 

Kama: 17. 
Knossos: 74. 

Latency: no, 112, 117, 121, 124, 
125, 127, 128, 129, 137. 

Lays of Ancient Rome : 115. 

Levites: 20, 62, 63, 64, 79, 84, 101. 

Life and Times of Akhnaton, The: 40, 
42. 

Maat: 32, 35, 81, 82, 96. 

Macaulay: 115. 

Magic: 81, 179. 

Massa: 57. 

Matriarchy: 132, 134, 135, 206, 
208. 

Medes: 20. 

Meriba: 57. 

Meribat-Qades : 55. 

Merneptah stele: 48, 78, 79, 99. 

Mesopotamia: 36. 

Messiah: 59, 143, 144, 168. 

Meyer, E. : 20, 23, 55, 56, 57, 59, 
61, 73, 78, 98- 

Middle Ages: 141. 

Midia: 66. 

Midian: 57, 58, 64, 67, 71, 75. 

Minoan -Mycenaean culture : 114. 

Minos: 74. 

Minos, King: 114. 

Moab : i o i . 

Mohammedan religion: 148. 

Monotheism: 24, 31, 34, 35, 36, 
37, 42, 51, 80, 92, 95, 96, 101, 
104, 105, 107, 109, no, 137, 
138, 142, 143, 144, 148, 175, 

202, 214. 

Mosaic doctrine : 82, 107, 143. 

God: 81, 82, 102, 104, 

113- 

ideals : 1 04. 
law: 75, 106. 
prohibition : 1 8 1 . 
religion: 31, 33, 41, 42, 
46, 83, 101, 112, 116, 
141, 142, 178, 194, 212. 
Mose: 84. 
Moses; his name: 12, 14, 23, 31, 

97- 

his birth: 19-23. 
circumcision : 44. 
and the Exodus: 47. 
and the Jews: 47, 49, 73, 

97, 1 68, 169, 
and Pharaoh: 46, 50, 52, 

53, 76, 97- 

222 

INDEX 

Moses; and God: 53, 177, 210. 
and Midian: 56, 57. 
murder of: 59, 60, 77, 79, 

98, 143, '5, 162. 
and Levites: 62, 63. 
and breaking of the tables : 

77- 

character of: 97. 
Mosessagen und die Leviten, Die: 23. 
Mose und seine Bedeutung fuer die 

israelitsch - juedische Religionsge- 

schichte: 59. 
Mose und seine zeit: 65. 
Mother-deities: 134, 142. 
Mother-fixation : 122. 
Mount Sinai: 53, 54, 66, 210. 
Myth: 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 

22, 23, 29, 46, 52, 54, 56, 72, 73, 

95, 113, 114, 131, 134. 
Mythus von der Geburt des Helden, 

Der: 15, 20. 

Narcissism: 120. 
Nehemiah: 69, 75. 
Neo-Egyptians: 54, 63. 
Nile: 12, 20, 50, 102. 
Nofertete: 36. 
Northern Syria: 42. 
Nubia: 36, 40. 

(Edipus: 17, 19. 

complex: 127, 159. 
Omnipotence of thoughts : 1 79. 
Omnipotent God : 1 74. 

On: 32, 35> 37> 5 1 * 76, 9 6 > 9 8 - 
Onanism: 128. 
Oresteia, The: 180. 
Original Sin: 139. 
Osiris: 33, 40, 41, 43. 

Palestine: 36, 48, 55, 56, 98, 99. 

Paris : 1 7. 

Passion, the: 141. 

Paul of Tarsus: 139, 141, 143, 

144, 214. 

Pentateuch: 52, 69. 
Perseus: 17. 
Persians: 69, 102. 
Pharaoh: 20, 21, 34, 36, 46, 52, 

53> 57, 77. 79> 9^, 97> 99> I 

103, 105, 137, 190. 
Phoenicians: 56. 
Phylogenetic origin: 157. 
Pinchas: 23. 

Poetry: 15, 17, 116. 

Polytheism: 33, 105, 135, 142, 

147. 

Preconscious : 152, 154, 155. 
Priestly Code : 69, 75, 107. 
Primaeval Father horde : 1 34, 1 38, 

145, 148, 151, 161, 192, 209, 210. 
Progress in spirituality: 138. 
Prophets, the: 59, 76, 84, 104, 

211. 

Ptah: 13. 
Ptolemies : 1 90. 
Punic: 74. 

Qades: 56, 57, 58, 59, 61, 63, 64, 
65, 66, 67, 71, 75, 78, 79, 81, 98, 
99, 100, no, 150. 

Ra-mose (Ramses) : 14. 

Rank, Otto: 15, 16, 17, 18, 20. 

Re: 3L>, 35,42. 

Red Sea: 54. 

Redeemer: 140, 141, 168. 

Repetition-compulsion: 122. 

Repressed Material: 129, 151, 

*52, 153, 155- 
Romans: 61, 146. 
Romulus: 17, 20. 

Sacred: 192. 

Sargon of Agade : 17. 

Schiller: 162. 

Schliemann, Heinrich: 114. 

School of the Priests : 35, 5 1 . 

Screen -memories: 120. 

Sellin, E. : 59, 60, 76, 83, 95, 98, 

112, 144. 
Set: 49. 

Shakespeare, William: 105. 
Shaw, George Bernard: 89. 
Shechem, Prince of: 45. 
Shittim: 60. 
Silo: 23. 
Sinai: 55, 98. 
Sinai-Horeb: 55, 66, 75. 
Smith, Robertson: 133, 205, 206, 

207. 

Son religion: 141. 
Soviet Russia: 89. 
Sprache des Pentateuch in ihren 

Beziehungen zum Aegyptischen : 6*- 

69. 
Sublimation: 138. 

INDEX 

223 

Substitutive satisfaction : 1 84, 20 1 . 

Sumerians: 44. 

Sun God: 32, 35, 36, 37, 40, 96, 

^98. 

Sun Temple: 35. 
Super-Ego: 155, 184, 185, 189. 
Symbolism: 158. 
Symptom formation: 201. 
Syria: 36, 42, 99. 

Taboo: 64, 74, 132. 

of incest: 190. 
Talmudists: 30. 
Telephos: 17. 
Tell-el-Amarna: 39, 97. 
Temple: 69. 

Ten Commandments: 66. 
Theatre, the: 141. 
Thebes: 32, 36, 38, 39, 42. 
Thothmes: 97. 

Ill: 36- 
Titus: 182. 

Topography of the psyche: 155. 
Torah: 182. 
Totem and Taboo: 85, 94, 130, 205, 

207. 

Totem animal: 133, 209. 
Totemism: 32, 133, 134, 135, 141, 

1 88, 206, 207, 208, 209. 
Tradition: 12, 62, 67, 71, 82, 83, 

85, in, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 

150, 151, 160, 201, 214. 

Tragic guilt: 140, 141, 215. 
Traumata: 84, 109, 117, 119, 120, 

122, 123, 124, 125, 127, 128, 

129, 130, 159. 
Turk: 49. 
Tutankhaton: 39. 
Twelve tribes: 80. 

Unconscious: 153, 154, 155, 200. 
memory traces : 151. 
Universal god: 37, 96, 103. 
Universalism: 36, 142. 

Vestal: 17. 

Volcano god: 55, 65, 66, 73, 74, 

89. 
Volz, Paul: 84. 

Weigall, A. : 40, 42. 

Westminster Abbey: 108. 

Wish-phantasy: 138, 140, 144. 

Womb: 18. 

Worship of the Sun: 43. 

Wuste und Gelobtes Land: 68, 102. 

Yahuda, A. S.: 63, 69. 

Zethos: 17. 
Zeus: 38, 74. 

http://archive.org/stream/mosesandmonothei032233mbp/mosesandmonothei032233mbp_djvu.txt

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