[b-hebrew] Akhenaten and Hebrew religion

Brian Roberts formoria at carolina.rr.com
Fri Jul 16 09:20:37 EDT 2004

On Friday, July 16, 2004, at 05:50  AM, Peter Kirk wrote:

> On 16/07/2004 00:47, Walter R. Mattfeld wrote:
>> Dear Tony,
>> Here's a quote illustrating that "some" individuals thought pharaoh 
>> was a
>> "god" in a clay tablet letter written in Akkadian (Babylonian) to 
>> Pharaoh
>> Akhenaten by one of his vassals :
>> "Say to the king, my lord, my GOD, my Sun, the breath of my life: Thus
>> Zimreddi, the mayor of Sidon. I fall at the feet of my lord, GOD, Sun,
>> breath of my lfe,...7 times 7 times." (p. 230. EA 144. "Zimreddi of 
>> Sidon."
>> William L. Moran. _The Amarna Letters_. Baltimore. John Hopkins 
>> University
>> Press. 1987)
> Akhenaten was hardly a typical Pharaoh, certainly from a religious 
> perspective. He may have claimed divine titles, but that certainly does 
> not prove that other Pharaohs did.

Akhenaten's henotheism has been suggested as providing insight into the 
framework-inspiration of some of the earliest Hebrew henotheism. "The 
Hymn to the Aten"  which dates to his reforms (14th century B.C.E.)  
praises the beneficence of the sun in language that is echoed in Psalm 
104 regarding the Hebrew God. Can this coincidence of religious 
synchronicity be interpreted (without much danger of over-extension) as 
a genesis (pardon the pun) for Hebrew religion? John Day (a Jehovah's 
Witness scholar, which I disclose so you can judge for yourself how much 
this plays into his research) posits that the creation Hymn to the Aten 
served as a source for the biblical writer P. He also sees linguistic 
connections between the two traditions.

"The expression l-mw'dym "for seasons" is found in the OT only in Psalm 
104:19 and Genesis 1:14, and both are mentioned in reference to 
luminaries. Similarly, chytw "beast" is found in Psalm 104:11-12 and 
Genesis 1:24, and is elsewhere restricted to poetry in the OT. This 
suggests at minimum that P is dependent on a poetic passage, and 
probably Psalm 104.

The greater mythological character of the psalm clearly establishes the 
direction of dependence. In Psalm 104:7 we actually have an allusion to 
the divine conflict with the sea, whereas in Genesis 1:6-7, God's 
control of the waters is merely work, and in  Psalm 104:26 we encounter 
God's creation of Leviathan while Genesis 1:21 speaks in demythologized 
terms of "great sea monsters". The allusion to thwm "deep" in Genesis 
1:2 can thus be traced to Psalm 104:6 which specifically refers to the 
waters by this name." (see http://www.jehovahs-
witness.com/10/73734/1.ashx )

Any thoughts?

R. Brian Roberts

> -- Peter Kirk
> peter at qaya.org (personal)
> peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
> http://www.qaya.org/
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