Moses Construction Company

For two generations we have been told that the Israelites "built the pyramids." But the great pyramids of Egypt were constructed in roughly 2300 BCE, about 1,000 years before it is estimated that the Israelites became enslaved in Mitzrayim. Exodus tells us that we build "great cities, Pithon and Ramses" but the Greek translation adds "cities Pithon, Ramses and On" - On is also known as Heliopolis, the City of the Sun. Many of the religious structures in Heliopolis were obelisks, a larger form of a religious pillar like those used by the Caananites in the time of Abraham.

The prophet Jeremiah wrote of the downfall of Egypt, calling for the "destruction of the pillars of the House of the Sun."  Heliopolis is written in Hebrew as "Beit Shemesh," and the the pillars - "matzevot" in Hebrew -- were the obelisks engraved to Egyptian deities.

Heliopolis was sacked by the Persians a few centuries later, as Jeremiah had accurately predicted, and the obelisks laid toppled until Julius Caesar sent his armies to retrieve them in the first century.  1,700 years later, they were distributed to major cities in the world, given the nickname "Cleopatra's Needles". One arrived in Central Park, New York where the inscriptions were interpreted to show that the original pillars had been defaced and modified by Ramses II, the pharoah mentioned in Exodus, during his continued construction of Heliopolis.

haggadah Section: -- Exodus Story
Source: Jonathan Lipnick, Israel Institute for Biblical Studies