[b-hebrew] Akhenaten and Hebrew religion

Dora Smith villandra at austin.rr.com
Fri Jul 16 13:40:46 EDT 2004


It isn't a surprise if there are parallels between Egyptian religion and
ritual and Canaanite religion and ritual.   Egypt occupied Palestine for
only about 400 years right up to the formation of Israel.

I believe we've seen it demonstrated sufficiently that the pharaohs were
considered divine.    Understand there were a number of senses in which an
ancient could be divine.   Jesus was divine - and this never meant he was

As for Akhenaten, his religion differed from that of Amun mostly in
politics.   It is actually believed that as his mother or court officials,
etc., may have been Syrian he could have gotten ideas from there.  But if I
remember right, Amun was also a sun god.

In any case, both the cult of Amun and the cult of Aten held that Amun/ Aten
was the one true god, and the myriad other gods were mere manifestations of
him.    Further, all peoples of all nations were bound to serve this one god
of Egypt; thus, he was in effect a universal god.

It does sound remarkably like Judaism as it began to develop.   But it did
not depend on Atenakhen.  In fact, one gets the idea that people in Canaan
and Palestine were barely aware of Akhenaten.  To some he was invitation to
revolt, to others he was the nuisance on the throne of Egypt who never
responded to their pleas for help against the revolting Hebrews.

Dora Smith
Austin, Texas
villandra at austin.rr.com
----- Original Message -----
From: "Brian Roberts" <formoria at carolina.rr.com>
To: "Peter Kirk" <peterkirk at qaya.org>
Cc: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Friday, July 16, 2004 8:20 AM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Akhenaten and Hebrew religion

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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