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The Boyhood of Moses

The Boyhood of Moses(1952)

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A narrator discusses how ancient Egyptians revered the Nile River along with their other gods, including Nek Heb, who protected the people, and Anubis, who "weighed the human heart against the truth." Egypt, a cultural center, entertainment capital and military power, is ruled by a ruthless Pharaoh whose mistreated slaves toil night and day to build his pyramids. In the lush terrain of the Nile, Moses is born to Amram and his wife Jochebed, and although Pharaoh has ordered all sons of slaves killed, the midwife promises to keep Moses' existence a secret. Three months later, Jethro, a counselor to Pharaoh, attempts to shield the slaves from the cruelty of the Taskmaster. When Jethro visits Pharaoh that evening, the dictator reveals that he has dreamt that his kingdom was a palm tree, with every root held by the hands of slaves. Concerned that the growing slave population may revolt, Pharoah proposes to turn them into his own soldiers. While Jethro, attempting to save the lives of the slaves, counsels him to keep the Israelis as workers, astrologer Ke Par warns Pharaoh to destroy the slaves and kill Jethro. Jethro then visits an Elder of Israel, who has been beaten severely by the Taskmaster. Although the Elder wants Jethro to lead the slaves to freedom, the counselor prefers to use his influence with Pharaoh to lighten their burden, thus allowing them to grow stronger. The Elder urges Jethro to remind the Pharaoh that it was Joseph, an Israelite, who once saved the Egyptians from famine, but Jethro is afraid to confront Pharaoh. Soon after, Ke Par prophesies that a child born three months earlier will lead the Jews to freedom. In response, Pharaoh orders all Jewish sons to be thrown into the Nile, but Jochebed saves Moses by hiding him under the bed. The devastated parents then put their son in an ark which they set afloat on the Nile, and send Moses' sister Miriam to watch over it. When Miriam sees Pharaoh's daughter Basya rescue the baby from the water, she offers Jochebed's services as a "Hebrew nurse." Jochebed cares for her son for three years, after which Basya insists that her duties are over. After the weeping mother leaves, Basya tells Moses to choose between a sword, gold and a scroll, and when the boy chooses the scroll, she declares that he will be "instructed in the wisdom of all things." Pharaoh commands Basya to teach Moses to worship their gods, and although the young boy tries to pray to the gods, a mysterious power interrupts his attempts. While his parents pray that their god will make himself known to their son, Moses urges his tutor, Sen, to teach him the ways of the Israelis, and although Sen is frightened to defy Pharaoh, he capitulates. Soon after, Ke Par informs Pharaoh that Moses is the boy who will one day lead the Jews. Pharaoh, who needs and fears his slaves in equal measure, demands that Moses be banished. Basya's grief, however, moves Pharaoh, and instead he orders Ke Par dismissed from service. Ke Par then attempts to kill Moses himself, but the boy leaps into the river and when Ke Par follows, he drowns in the reeds at the riverside. Wondering why he was saved once again, young Moses studies the slaves laboring on the other side of the river.