Bible Myths and their Parallels in other Religions Being a Comparison of the Old and New Testament Myths and Miracles with those of the Heathen Nations of Antiquity Considering also their Origin and Meaning
To return now to the story of the Red Sea being divided to let Moses and his followers pass through—of which we have already seen one counterpart in the legend related of Bacchus and his army passing through the same sea dry-shod—there is another similar story concerning Alexander the Great.
The histories of Alexander relate that the Pamphylian Sea was divided to let him and his army pass through. Josephus, after speaking of the Red Sea being divided for the passage of the Israelites, says:
"For the sake of those who accompanied Alexander, king of Macedonia, who yet lived comparatively but a little while ago, the Pamphylian Sea retired and offered them a passage through itself, when they had no other way to go . . . and this is confessed to be true by all who have written about the actions of Alexander."[55:2]
He seems to consider both legends of the same authority, quoting the latter to substantiate the former.
"Callisthenes, who himself accompanied Alexander in the expedition," "wrote, how the Pamphylian Sea did not only open a passage for Alexander, but, rising and elevating its waters, did pay him homage as its king."[55:3]
It is related in Egyptian mythology that Isis was at one time on a journey with the eldest child of the king of Byblos, when coming to the river Phœdrus, which was in a "rough air," and wishing to [Pg 56]cross, she commanded the stream to be dried up. This being done she crossed without trouble.[56:1]
There is a Hindoo fable to the effect that when the infant Crishna was being sought by the reigning tyrant of Madura (King Kansa)[56:2] his foster-father took him and departed out of the country. Coming to the river Yumna, and wishing to cross, it was divided for them by the Lord, and they passed through.
The story is related by Thomas Maurice, in his "History of Hindostan," who has taken it from the Bhagavat Pooraun. It is as follows:
"Yasodha took the child Crishna, and carried him off (from where he was born), but, coming to the river Yumna, directly opposite to Gokul, Crishna's father perceiving the current to be very strong, it being in the midst of the rainy season, and not knowing which way to pass it, Crishna commanded the water to give way on both sides to his father, who accordingly passed dry-footed, across the river."[56:3]
This incident is illustrated in Plate 58 of Moore's "Hindu Pantheon."
There is another Hindoo legend, recorded in the Rig Veda, and quoted by Viscount Amberly, from whose work we take it,[56:4] to the effect that an Indian sage called Visvimati, having arrived at a river which he wished to cross, that holy man said to it: "Listen to the Bard who has come to you from afar with wagon and chariot. Sink down, become fordable, and reach not up to our chariot axles." The river answers: "I will bow down to thee like a woman with full breast (suckling her child), as a maid to a man, will I throw myself open to thee."
This is accordingly done, and the sage passes through.
We have also an Indian legend which relates that a courtesan named Bindumati, turned back the streams of the river Ganges.[56:5]
We see then, that the idea of seas and rivers being divided for the purpose of letting some chosen one of God pass through is an old one peculiar to other peoples beside the Hebrews, and the probability is that many nations had legends of this kind.
That Pharaoh and his host should have been drowned in the Red Sea, and the fact not mentioned by any historian, is simply impossible, especially when they have, as we have seen, noticed the fact of the Israelites being driven out of Egypt.[56:6] Dr. Inman, speaking of this, says:
"We seek in vain amongst the Egyptian hieroglyphs for scenes which recall such cruelties as those we read of in the Hebrew records; and in the writings which have hitherto been translated, we find nothing resembling the wholesale destructions described and applauded by the Jewish historians, as perpetrated by their own people."[57:1]
That Pharaoh should have pursued a tribe of diseased slaves, whom he had driven out of his country, is altogether improbable. In the words of Dr. Knappert, we may conclude, by saying that:
"This story, which was not written until more than five hundred years after the exodus itself, can lay no claim to be considered historical."[57:2]