What's the origin of the surname 'Moses'?

9 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    The name itself is from the Greek way of rendering the Hebrew name "Mosheh"-- the name of the great deliverer raised up to lead the Hebrew slaves ("people of Israel") out of Egypt.

    BUT the Hebrew name itself seems to come from an EGYPTIAN name meaning "son". We find the same root in "Thutmose" and "Ramses". Those were ROYAL names, referring to the bearer as son/offspring of a particular god ("Thoth" and "Ra" [the sun god] in these examples). Some have suggested that the man we call "Moses" would, like these, have originally had a longer name that included the name of an Egyptian deity, but that this was dropped by the Hebrews who did not acknowledge the gods of Egypt.

    (Interesting twist here possibly -- the story of the people's deliverance focuses on a contest between the LORD [Hebrew YHWH, probably "Yahweh"] and Pharaoh and the gods of Egypt. In his adventures and in this contest Moses stands as the representative of Israel, whom the LORD calls "my son". In fact, the LORD specifically says he will judge Pharaoh BECAUSE 'you killed my son', referring back especially to the drowning of the Hebrew boys in chapters 1-2.)


    But the Hebrew Bible explains this as a HEBREW name. Or does it?

    The book of Exodus credits Pharaoh's daughter with finding and naming him (which would fit with an Egyptian name), with this explanation ---

    "he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, "I drew him out of the water." (Exodus 2:10)

    Now the Hebrew "Mosheh" sounds like it might mean "one who draws out" or possibly "one drawn out". Thus it is possible she gave him this Hebrew name for that reason. But, in fact, these sorts of 'popular etymolgies' are found in a number of Old Testament stories, and they do not always indicate that this was the literal meaning of the name. In a number of cases, the added explanation is a WORDPLAY, either by the mother or some later commentator, to make a special point, NOT because that's exactly what they thought the original word meant. Sometimes it's a way of saying -- 'he is appropriately called [NAME] because. . .' followed by a wordplay.

    The point of the wordplay is both in the story of Moses' finding/rescue AND in the fact that his experiences are seen as a picture of what God will soon do for ALL the people he leads. Just as Moses was rescued from the waters, they will all be rescued from a watery grave at the Red Sea (where things are turned around, as the EGYPTIANS who drowned the Hebrew children, are themselves drowned), and as he goes on to spend 40 years (that is, a generation) in the desert, so will the people.

    Incidentally, for those getting their info from Wikipedia -- the Hebrew does NOT refer to 'water' [mayim] (which would appear at the END of the sentence of the idea were supposed to be 'drawn out of the water'); M(O)- is the form of the prefix for participles when the first letter of the verb is y from original w.

  • 1 decade ago

    "Moses" = 'boy' in ancient Egyptian and is not considered a 'surname'...[last name], but a first name.

    There are many historians, as well as Egyptologists, who hypothesize that the story of the biblical 'Moses'

    originates not in Egypt, but in Sumer. Sumer was a group of city states in what is now S. Iraq. The story of a babe put in a basket of 'bulrushes' and set afloat in a river was included in the ancient "Epic of Gilgamesh", which was much more ancient than the Egyptian New Kingdom/Biblical story. But, this is just theory/hypothesis, as there is no solid proof of 'Moses' existence archaeologically or historically, other than biblical references.

  • 4 years ago

    He may be Jewish Greek. In the phone directory there are many Greeks with the surname Moses, usually they also have Jewish surnames, but not all (I found a George Moses). As Dellarovere said, there are also many surnames like Moseades, he may have cut it short.

  • 1 decade ago

    Check this website



    Moses Surname DNA Project

    Our Moses Surname DNA Project is open to ALL Moses descendents. Our goal is to identify many Moses family groups and hopefully to prove and disprove family connections. DNA will NOT take the place of traditional research. It is only an enhancement to that research.

    Order your kit

    Family Tree DNA info

    Moses DNA Results

    If you are a Male with the last name Moses, you will want to do the actual testing. If you are a female descendent or a male who descends from a female Moses, you may want to do some recruiting in order to have your Moses line of interest represented.

    The Y-chromosome is passed from father to son normally unchanged, though occasionally differences do occur and it is these mutations which show how close or far we are from a common ancestor. There are some excellent introductions and explanations available on the web which can tell you much more about the science behind this than is possible here. Testing the Y chromosome will provide each participant with a genetic finger print consisting of 12 or 25 or 37 or 67 numbers. By comparing this finger print to others who also carry the Moses surname, participants can determine if there is a relationship.

    To become a part of our DNA test group and take advantage of the special rates offered for being a part of the Moses Surname DNA project go to the link at the top of the page to order your test kit.

    12 marker Y-DNA test $99 + postage

    25 marker Y-DNA test $148 + postage

    37 marker Y-DNA test $189 + postage

    67 marker Y-DNA test $269 + postage


    12-25 markers - $49

    12-37 markers - $99

    25-37 markers - $49

    37-67 markers - $99

    Y-DNA12+MtDNA $199

    Y-DNA37+mtDNAPlus $339

    Y-DNA59+mtDNAPlus $409

    SuperDNA (T-DNA59+Full mtDNA Sequence) $935


    HOME | DNA Results | Group Two | Group One

  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    From 'son of Moses'. Like Solomons etc. Usually thought of as a Jewish name.

  • .
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    Moses' name

    According to the Hebrew Bible, the name Moses comes from two words, one meaning "water", the other meaning to "come out of" ("to come out of water").


  • 1 decade ago


  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Mesopotamian word for "you can do it"

    or "it is aloud to do"....

    All that rubbish about Bible is non sense...

  • Matt
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    it came from the Bible.


Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.