Pharaoh's Daughter



Pharaoh's Daughter is a historical novel by Julius Lester that that re-imagines the story of Moses's childhood.

The setting is Ancient Egypt, about 1300 years before Christ.

As we read this story, we will also study the geography and history of ancient Egypt.

For historical reasons, the author uses some alternate spellings and names, including
  • Moses is spelled Mosis.
  • The Hebrew people are called the Habiru people.
  • Egypt is called Khemet. (Khemet is an ancient name for Egypt).
  • The God of the Habiru is called Ya. (Ya is one of the Hebrew names of God).

Identity Crisis

Most people don't choose their own religion; rather, they simply inherit the religion of their parents. There are, of course, exceptions. Some people, having explored the ideas of a "foreign" religion, voluntarily decide to convert to a faith that is different from the one that they grew up in.

Have you ever thought about changing your religion?

In Pharaoh's Daughter, the author explores these themes. (A theme is a central idea or "life lesson" that runs throughout a story).

Julius Lester

Did you know?

The author, Julius Lester, converted from Christianity to Judaism soon after writing Pharaoh's Daughter. Do you think he may have written this novel as a way of working through his own beliefs about religion?

Point of View

The story is told from two points of view:

Almah and Mosis share a deep connection. Both were taken from their Hebrew home and adopted by the pharaoh's family. Not surprisingly, each of them suffers a sort of identity crisis.

These are questions that no one can answer for them. Caught between two cultures, each must decide on their own who they are, and who they want to be.

Highlight This!

As we read through the novel, I want you to mentally highlight each time a character:

  • questions their own religion.
  • expresses interest in another religion.




Have you ever felt caught between two cultures? How did each of these cultures shape your identity?

Instructions for the Quiz

Answer the questions.