It's that traditional time once again to pay tribute to the pointy-hatted immigrants
who gave us the holiday Americans so enjoy. But Thanksgiving, bless the Pilgrims, may have less to do with peace, love and puritanism
than with another icon who's had "his fingerprints are all over our
turkeys" for the last 3,000 years. We're speaking, of course, of the man who brought the Israelites to the
promised land: Moses.
In a Huffington Post essay, Bruce Feiler
, not-coincidentally the author of How the Story of Moses Shaped America
makes the case that the age-old story of the prophet is the foundation for the contemporary American national holiday. His reasoning goes something
like this: the tale of how the Israelites escaped the clutches of the
Egyptians (through the Red Sea, into the wilderness and finally to the
"promised land" of Canaan) was retold by countless generations of
Christians. And by the time the separatist movement decided to leave
England, these pilgrims "saw themselves as fulfilling this biblical
As they set sail on the Mayflower (with Bibles emblazoned with images of Moses) they referred to themselves as the "chosen
people" fleeing the "pharaoh" of the English monarch. "And when they got
to Cape Cod, they thanked God for letting them pass through their fiery
Red Sea," Fieler recounts.
So just remember, he entreats, "if your gathering threatens to descend into a familiar fracas among
different faiths, factions and political persuasions," remember the Biblical origins of this "most secular of American holidays." Perhaps "Moses, precisely
because he has been used by believers and non-believers alike,
Republicans and Democrats, Jews, Catholics and Protestants, may be the
one figure who can unite the family and allow them all to enjoy their
Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments
or send an email to the author at
ehayden at nationaljournal dot com.
You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.