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PabloAriasBenavides History103 11.27.

2011

Israel,MySon: EgyptandtheHebrews

PartI: Introduction

Truly,onecannotdoubttheprominenceofEgyptinthestoriesoftheBible,especiallythe booksofGenesisandExodus.AlthoughthedatesandtimespansgivenbyBiblicalauthorsprove difficulttoreconcilewithmodernknowledgeofAncientEgypt,andtheauthorsshowasuprising ignoranceofEgyptianhistory,culture,andgeography,theTorahinmanyinstancesdisplayshistorical accuracy.FromtheDescentofJosephandhisfamilytotheExodus,Egyptservesasthebackdropto theevolutionofthedisparateHebrewsintotheunifiedpeopleofIsrael.Itis,however,verydifficultto seeanysimilaritybetweenJewishreligiousthoughtandthealmostanimisticbeliefsoftheancient Egyptians.AlthoughbothJewsandEgyptians"arecircumcisedforthesakeofcleanliness"(Durant, 202),acursoryexaminationofthetwocultureswillshowthatthisisoneoffewparallels.Therefore,the

purposeofthisinquiryistoestablishparallelsbetweenEgyptianandJewishliteriatureandreligious imagery. Adeeperlookwillshowthat,althoughtraditionalEgyptianreligionwaspolytheisticand emphasizedritualsandmagic,onePharaoh'sreformsbearastrikingsimilaritytoMosaicreligions. Ahkenatonhasbeenvariouslydescribedas"thefirstindividualinhumanhistory"(Breasted,301),a deformedproductofPharaonicincest,humanitarianreformer,thefirstmonotheist,anddogmatic, intoleranticonoclast.Hehasbeeninvokedby"mysticswhobelievethatAkhenatenguardsthelost wisdomofAtlantis,disabilityrightsactivistswhopresenthimasapositiverolemodel...Afrocentrists whoinvokehimasanancestorfromthegloriousblackpastdeniedthembyEuropeanracists,gaymen whosaythatheisthefirstgayman...[heisinvokedas]AkhenatentheprotoNazi...OrAkhenatenthe patronsaintofpedophiles"(Montserrat,2).LikeDavidandSolomon,thekinginEgypt"was chiefpriestofthefaith,andledthegreatprocessionsandceremoniesthatcelebratedthefestivalsofthe gods"(Durant,201),andAkhenatonusedthisroyalprerogativetofoundthefirsttrulymonotheistic religionknowntohistory. Intruth,thehistorianwillfindmanyparrallelsbetweenthebooksoftheBibleandthewritingsof theEgyptians,bothinAkhenaten'stimeperiodandothers.WholepassagesoftheTorah,especiallythe bookstraditionallyattributedtoSolomon,canbeshowntohavebeencopiedfromEgyptiantexts.This isnottodenigratetheoriginalityofJewishthought,butonlytoshowthatEgyptianthoughtwasknownin thePalestineoftheUnitedMonarchy.Solomon,introducedinEcclesiastesas"thePreacher,Sonof David,KinginJerusalem"(Ecclesiastes1:1),"taughtthepeopleknowledgeyea,hegavegoodheed, andsoughtout,andsetinordermanyproverbs.Thepreachersoughttofindoutacceptablewords:and

thatwhichwaswrittenwasupright,evenwordsoftruth"(Ecclesiastes12:910). Thecarefulreadermayobserveapreoccupationwithtruth,bothinthelanguageofthisessay andthatofKingSolomon.ThisisapreoccupationsharedbyAhkenaton,who"alwaysspokeofhimself as'livingintruth'"(Wiegall,Location1024),anddeclaredhiscapitaltheseatoftruth(Maat) (Breasted,300),andbyhisfollowers,oneofwhomdeclares:"Ihavesettruthinmyinwardparts... AndfalsehoodismyloathingforIknowthattheKingrejoicethintruth."Indeed,thisisapreoccupation whichisoneofthecentraltenetsofbothJewishandEgyptianthought."TheLordbyWisdomhath foundedtheEarthbyunderstandinghathheestablishedtheHeavens"(Proverbs3:19),declares Solomon,andwefindMa'atthroughoutallvariationsofEgyptianreligion.InJudaism,wefindthe conceptsofWisdom,theWordofGod,theMemraofYHWH,andinEgypt,thoseofMa'at,Truth,the foundationoftheearthandthecosmicorder,andtheAten."ThoudidstcreatetheEarthaccordingto thyheart/Whilethouwastalone,"recallsAhkenaten,"Men,allcattlelargeandsmall,/allthatareupon theearth/...Theforeigncountries,SyriaandKush,/ThelandofEgypt/Thousettesteverymaninto hisplace,/Thousuppliesttheirnecessities"(Durant,208). Thusourpreliminaryinvestigationswillfocusontheliteraryparallelsbetweenthebooksof Solomon(EcclesiastesandProverbs)andvarious,mostlyunattributedEgyptiantexts,andreligious imagesandideascommontoboththeEgyptiansandtheJews.

PartII:

LivinginTruth

Traditionally,thebooksofProverbsandEcclesiastesareattributedtoKingSolomon.Donald Redford,inhisstudyEgypt,Canaan,andIsraelinAncientTimesmakestheobservationthat "monarchicstatesinantiquity...Dependuponalargecadreofscribestomakethemrun...Suchscribes wouldneedtraining...ButinSolomon'scasetheempirehadcomeintobeingbutyesterday,andno scribesortrainingmechanismexisted.Modelswereneeded...Andwherebettertofindsuchmodels thaninthehighlysophisticatedscribaltraditionofEgypt,justnextdoor?"(Redford,302).Redford clearlydoesnotbelievethisargumentsufficientlystrongtojustifyattributionofthesuccesorstoriesof SamuelandKingstoSolomon,especiallybecausesocietiesgenerallyusewritingforpurposesof taxationandinventorylongbeforeliterature.However,asnotedabove,Solomonwasdescribedin Ecclesiastesasacompilerofproverbs,notnecessarilytheiroriginatorandanintrospectiveworklike Ecclesiasteswouldnothavebeenbeyondtheabilitiesofaneducated,cosmopolitankinglikeSolomon. Regardless,andbecausetheattributionofthesetextsisbeyondthescopeofthisinvestigation,wewill refertotheirauthorasSolomon. Redford'ssuggestionthatthescribesofIsraelwereinfluencedbytheirEgyptiancounterpartsis aninterestingone,andcanbeprovedbytextualevidencewithintheTorahandsurvivingEgyptiantexts. "ThefearoftheLordisthebeginningofknowledge:butfoolsdespisewisdomandinstruction" (Proverbs1:7)saysSolomon,andhiscounterpartagrees:"Icry,thebeginningofwisdomisthewayof Amen,therudderoftruth"(EgyptianLiterature,location6145).AnEgyptianhymntotheNileusesa strikinganduncommonimage:"Thereisagreatoneadorningthelandanenlightener,abucklerinfront

ofmen,quickeningtheheartindepression,"oragain,"Hecausethgrowthtofulfillalldesires,Henever weariesofit.Hemakethhismightabuckler.Heisnotgraveninmarble,asanimagebearingthedouble crown.Heisnotbeheld"(Egyptianliterature,60445973).TheimageofGodasashieldiscertainlyan interestingone,andisechoedbySolomon,whosays"theLordgivethwisdom:outofhismouthcometh knowledgeandunderstanding.Helayethupsoundwisdomfortherighteous:heisabucklertothemthat walkuprightly"(Proverbs2:68).AndAgur,thoughheadmits,"Iammorebrutishthananyman,and havenottheunderstandingofaman.Ineitherlearnedwisdom,norhavetheknowledgeoftheholy," usesthesameimage"EverywordofGodispure,HeisashielduntothemthatputtheirtrustinHim" (Proverbs30:25). ThebookofEcclesiastes,throughtheKingJamestranslation,hasgivenussomeofthemost beautifulpassagesintheEnglishlanguage.Solomon'slamentsandpreceptsarecouchedinlanguageat oncedespairingandenlightened."Forwhathathmanofallhislabor,andofthevexationofhisheart, whereinhehathlaboredunderthesun?Forallhisdaysaresorrows,andhistravailgrief,yea,hisheart takethnotrestinthenight.Thisalsoisvanity"(Ecclesiastes2:2123),complainsthepreacher,and advises:"Gothyway,eatthybreadwithjoy,anddrinktheywinewithamerryheartforgodnow accepteththyworks.Letthygarmentsalwaysbewhiteandletthyheadlacknoointment.Livejoyfully withthewifewhomthoulovestallthedaysofthyvanity,whichhehathgiventheeunderthesun,allthe daysofthyvanity"(Ecclesiastes9:710).Similarly,anEgyptiantextdatingto2200BCEcounsels "Encouragethyhearttoforgetit,makingitpleasantfortheetofollowthydesirewhilethoulivest.Put myrrhuponthyhead,andgarmentsoffinelinen...Celebratethegladdaybenotwearytherein.Lo,no mantakethhisgoodswithhimyea,nonereturnethagainthatisgonehither"(Durant,197).Andjustas

onescribeexhortshislistenerto"strengthenthyhearttoforgethowthouhastenjoyedthyself,fulfillthy desirewhilstthoulivest"(EgyptianLiterature,6102),Solomontellshim:"totakehisportion,andto rejoiceinhislabourthisisthegiftofGod.Forheshallnotmuchrememberthedaysofhislifebecause Godanswerethhiminthejoyofhisheart"(Ecclesiastes5:1920).JustasSolomonteachesthat enjoymentoflifeisagiftofGod,heextollsthevirtuesofwisdomandbalance."Woetothee,Oland, whentheKingisachildandthyprinceseatinthemorning.Blessedartthou,Oland,whenthyKingis thesonofnobles,andthyprinceseatindueseason,forstrength,andnotfordrunkenness!"(Proverbs 10:1617).ThisimmediatelyrecallstheEgyptianconceptofthePharaohrulinginaccordwithMa'at (Truth).ThusfarwehavepresentedevidencewhichsuggeststhatSolomon,orwhoevercomposed thesebooks,hadaccesstoEgyptianliterature. AquotefromMalachi,ostensiblywrittenbyanauthorseperatedfromSolomonbymanyyears, elaboratesthispointandintroducesanewone:thereligiousimageryfoundinAkhenaten'scultofthe AtencanalsobefoundintheTorah."ButuntoyouthatfearmynameshalltheSunofrighteousness arisewithhealinginhiswings"(Malachi4:2),saystheLord.Thewingedsunwasacommonsymbolin ancientEgypt,andespeciallyinthereligionofAhkenaten."TheKing,livingintruth,Akhnaton,whose lifeislong,"accordingtoWiegall,"...boldlyproclaimedGodtobealifegiving,intangibleessence:the heatwhichisinthesun.Hewas'thelivingAton'thatistosay,thepowerwhichproduced...Thesun. Althoughhewassooftencalled'theAton,'hewasmorecloselydefinedas'themasteroftheAton'" (Location942).Manyscholars,includingWiegallhimself,claimthatthisdifferentiatesAtonfrom YHWH,inthatYHWHisagodwithanthropomorhphicattributes.However,manyJewishreligious authoritieshavedeniedthisviewpoint.Aconceptwasbrieflyintroducedearlierinthisessay,butnot

thoroughlyexplained,thatoftheMemra(oravatar)ofYHWH.TheMemraisabeingwhoappearsin theTargum,anAramaicversionoftheTorah.TheMemra,accordingtotheJewishencyclopedia, "figuresconstantlyasthemanifestationofthedivinepower,orasGod'smessengerinplaceofGod Himself,whereverthepredicateisnotinconformitywiththedignityorthespiritualityoftheDeity."The MemraappearswheneverYHWHinteractswithIsrael.BecauseYHWHisincorporealandhasno attributes,hecannotpossiblyinteractwithhumanbeings.ThustheMemraistheforcethatactson behalfofYHWHwhenhewrestleswithJacob,whenherainsfireonSOdomandGamorrah,anditis theMemrawhichdwellsintheTabernacleZion.JustasAhkenaten'sGoddoesnotinteractwithhumans directly,butthroughtheAten,YHWHusestheMemra:"InthebeginningwastheWord,andtheWord waswithGod,andtheWordwasGod"(John1:1),statesoneNewTestamentauthor. AnotherpieceofarchaeologicalevidencewhichclearlyshowsthatYHWHwasincorporeal also,interestingly,showsthesuntobeYHWH'ssymbolincreation.TheBASLibraryrecordsthe discoveryofafourtieredstatuewithintheterritoryoftheUnitedMonarchyofIsrael.Thisstatue depictstwogods,YHWHandhisAsherah(hisconsort,ormorelikely,hisMemra),intwoformseach. Theauthorofthereport,GlenTaylor,concludes"thattheorthodoxnotionoftheinvisibleGodpresent withinHistempleamidthecherubimwasalreadyinplaceatleastasearlyasthetenthcenturyB.C.E., butitalsoshowsthattheunorthodoxnotionthatthesunwasaculticsymbol(oricon)ofYahwehof Hostswhodwellsamongthecherubim(see,forexample,1Samuel4:42Samuel6:22Kings19:15 Isaiah37:16)wasalsowidespread.Moreover,itshowsthatYahwehandhisconsortwerelinked alreadyinthetenthcenturyB.C.E.andinplaceslessobscurethanKuntilletAjrudandKhirbet elKom"(members.bibarch.org).TheauthoralsogivesusafewexamplesofSunworshipintheBible:

SupportforthissuggestionisfoundinseveralBiblicalpassages:Youwhoareenthronedonthe cherubim,shineforth.Restoreus,OGodletyourfaceshine(Psalm80:23)TheLordcame fromSinai,anddawnedfromSeiruponusheshoneforthfromMountParan(Deuteronomy33:2). Moreover,inJewishincantationsandprayersoftheGraecoRomanperiodwefindsuchprayersas HailHelios,thouGodintheheavens,yournameismightyandanincantationthatinvokesHelios onthecherubim.12(SeealsoJudges5:1920.)[also],Ezekiel8:16tellsofavisioninwhichmen turntheirbackonYahwehsTempleandprostratethemselvestothesun.)Thequoteinquestionreads thus:AndhebroughtmeintotheinnercourtoftheLORD'Shouse,and,behold,atthedoorof


thetempleoftheLORD,betweentheporchandthealtar,wereaboutfiveandtwentymen,with theirbackstowardthetempleoftheLORD,andtheirfacestowardtheeastandthey worshippedthesuntowardtheeast.Weigallgivesussomeinsightintothispassage:inorder topreventthemoreignorantofhisdisciplesfromworshippingthesunitselfAkhnatonseemsto haveselectedthesunriseandthesunsetasthetwohoursforceremonialadorationforthenthe light,thebeauty,thetenderness,ofthecelestialphenomenoncouldbeappreciated,andthe awfulmajestyofthesunwasnotingreatprominence.Akhnatonattemptedtocultivateinhis followersanappreciationofthegentlehuesofdaybreakandofeveningandhetaughtthemto believethattheoftmentioned"beauties"oftheAtonwereonlytobefullyunderstoodatthese times.Inthegladnessofsunriseandinthehushofthesunset,theemotionsaremostapttobe touchedandmovedforinEgyptthereisalwayspraiseintheheartinthecoolopalescenceof thedawn,andintheredduskthereismanyandmanyadream.Phrasessuchasthefollowing maybegleanedfromAkhnaton'shymns:"Thyrisingisbeautifulinthehorizonofheaven,Oliving Aton,whodispenseslifeshiningfromtheeasternhorizonofheaven,ThoufillEgyptwithThy beauty.Thysettingisbeautiful,OlivingAton,whoguideallcountriesthattheymaymake laudationsatThydawningandatThysetting.WhentheAtonrisesallthelandisinjoyHisrays

produceeyesforallthatHehascreatedandmensay,'ItislifetoseeHim,thereisdeathinnot seeingHim'.WhenThousetalive,OAton,WestandEastgivepraisetoThee.Thousettbehind thewesternhorizonThousetinlifeandgladness.(Wiegall,974).

ThuswehaveprovedthatEgyptianandJewishreligionshareafewcoreconcepts:the incorporealnatureofthedeitythedeity'sinteractionwiththeworldthroughhisavatar,principallythe wingedsunorAtenandthefoundationoftheearthinWisdomorMa'at.WehaveprovedthatJewish literatureowesagreatdebttoEgyptianwritings.Wehaveprovedthatatleasttworituals,thatof circumcisionandthatoftheadorationofthesunatsunrise,arecommontobothpeoples(althoughnot necessarilyorthodox).AfurtherstudycouldincludethetheoriesexpressedbyFreudandAhmed Osman,whobothclaimthatMoseswasinfactAhkenaten.Thiscanbeprovedbythecorrect identificationofJosephasYuya,thefathertothePharaohmentionedinboththeBibleandEgyptian texts,fatherinlawtoAmenhotepIIIandthusmaternalgrandfatherofAhkenaten.Itcanbeproved,on thebasisofRedfordsanalysis,thataftertheDescentofJosephsomeHebrewsremainedasthe Shasu,aBedouinpeopleknowntotheEgyptianstoinhabitthelandofCanaan,andwhoworshipped avolcanogodnamedYahvehmuchofthedevelopmentoftheJewishreligioncanbeseenasthe conflictbetweentheShasusanthropomorphicconceptionoftheirtribaldeity,Yahvehandthe AtenisticconceptionofYHWHastheineffableGod,broughttoCanaanbytheJewsintheExodus. Buttheelaborationofthesepointswillhavetobepostponedduetoconstraintsoftimeandthe lengthinessofanalreadyoverlongexposition.

WorksCited

Breasted,JamesHenry.TheDawnofConscience,.NewYork:C.Scribner'sSons,1933.Print. Durant,Will.OurOrientalHeritage.Vol.1.NewYork:SimonandSchuster,1935.Print.TheStory ofCivilization. TheHolyBible.KJVed.[S.l.]:DistributedbyAmazonDigitalServices,2011.Print. Montserrat,Dominic.Akhenaten:History,Fantasy,andAncientEgypt.London:Routledge,2000. Print. Weigall,Gerald.Akhenaton.Plantagenet,2011.Kindle. Wilson,Epiphanius.EgyptianLiteratureComprisingEgyptianTales,Hymns,Lianies,Incovations, theBookoftheDead,andCuneiformWritings.AmazonDigitalServices,2011.Print.


Taylor,Glen."WasYahwehWorshippedastheSun?"BiblicalArchaelogySocietyLibrary.BAS, MayJune1994.Web.Fall2011. <members.bibarch.org/publication.asp?PubID=BSBA&Volume=20&Issue=03&ArticleID =04>. "MEMRA."JewishEncyclopedia.com.Web.Fall2011. <http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/10618memra>. Redford,DonaldB.Egypt,Canaan,andIsraelinAncienttimes.Princeton,NJ:PrincetonUP, 1992.Print