Early Jewish Monotheism and Egyptian Atenism – One And The Same?
The religious influences upon both Akhenaten and his brother Tuthmose from the temples of Heliopolis went a long way in fashioning their comparative belief systems. By encouraging the older solar beliefs, the priests of Iunu opened up the world of the ancient religions where fundamentally there was one source, the original first creator god. By distancing himself more and more from the priesthood, their father, Amenhotep III, set the precedent for both princes to completely separate themselves from the sphere of the comparatively modern Amun-Ra.
The concept of a single creator god, unseen and omnipresent was the basis of the religion that Moses attempted to force upon the Israelites in the desert and he could be tyrannical in his insistence that his way was right. One only has to look at the incident of the Golden Calf to see Moses’ overreaction.
The Golden Calf from The Bible and its stories (CC0)
Massacre Of The Golden Calf
While Moses was receiving the Ten Commandments, the Israelites grew impatient and implored Aaron to fashion gods for them. Aaron collected gold and jewelry from the people and made an idol in the shape of a calf or bull. He then built an altar before this golden idol for the waiting Israelites to make burnt offerings. Moses was so angry at this return to the old ways that he called for all those still loyal: “‘ Who is for Jehovah? - unto me!' and all the sons of Levi are gathered unto him; and he saith to them, ‘Thus said Jehovah, God of Israel, Put each his sword by his thigh, pass over and turn back from gate to gate through the camp, and slay each his brother, and each his friend, and each his relation'”(Exodus 32 Young’s Literal Translation).
Moses destroying the tables by James Tissot (1896–1902)(Public Domain)
Three thousand people were slain as a direct result of the people falling back on their old gods in a moment of weakness. Despite the Israelites being his ‘chosen’ people, it is hard not to imagine that the former prince of Egypt still carried that disdain that all Egyptians seemed to hold for foreigners. To Moses the right way was also an Egyptian way, and what was to eventually become Judaism started out with a strong Egyptian flavor.
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Ted Loukes is an independent researcher with a passion for ancient civilizations. After publishing his first book Moses and Akhenaten: Brothers in Alms, his passion for Egypt led to the creation of GnT Tours, running small private tours to the Tombs and Temples of the sprawling necropolis on the West Bank, Luxor, burial place of many of the kings and queens from Egypt's New Kingdom, including Tutankhamun and Rameses the Great. His latest book Forty Days in Egypt in the Time of Corona was a result of getting stranded as the world went into lockdown with Covid19
Top Image: The Adoration of the Golden Calf – Picture from the Hortus deliciarum of Herrad of Landsberg (12th century) (Public Domain)
By Ted Loukes