begins in ancient Egypt with Amenhotep IV. (l350-1334 BC). He has
been identified as uniquely the first "monotheist" worshipping his
single god "Aten", the Sun. Aten, similar to the ancient Egyptian
god "Ra", was represented by the sun-disk, was the creator of all
life, and was a god of goodness and divine benevolence. Amenhotep
was so sincere that he changed his name to Akenaten [also spelled
In each of the
three divisions of the Egyptian empire Egypt, Kush, and Syria, he
built a temple consecrated to Aten. He took up residence in a city
he had built called Akhetaten, known today as the Tell el-Armarna in
the southeastern part of Egypt. Aten represented a universal power
that paralleled the Pharaoh's growing power over the known world.
Akenaten actually paid individuals to proselytize his cult of Aten.
However, the faith never became popular.
Akenaten's reign, Egypt's power significantly declined. When
Akenaten died, his temples were destroyed. Among the few remains of
his cult were hymns found written in the tombs of the proselytes at
Amarna. The longest of these hymns to Aten is noted to be similar to
the Psalm 104, written for the Bible hundreds of years later.
There are a
few possibilities for how this might have come about. It is fairly
certain that, even previous to the time of Moses, fleeing slaves in
groups of various sizes, had wondered into the Sinai Peninsula. As
the emigrants walked, they sang to keep up their spirits. One of the
songs they sang may have been Akenaten's hymn to the Sun. Oral
tradition could have perpetuated the elements of his hymn for 600
For those who
are unconvinced about the similarity of these two documents, Jacob's
descent into Egypt, described in the Bible, recalls the Hyksos
dynasties, where the Iron age Canaanites conquered Egypt and ruled
for several generations as Pharaohs. When the descendants of the
original rulers regrouped and repelled the Hyksos, both the
conquerors and the large Semitic population that had entered as
migrant workers before and during the foreign dynasty were either
driven out or placed in bondage. This was the beginning of the 400
years of slavery. Through those who were driven out, Hymns to the
Sun were introduced into Canaan. Probably due to this, worship of
the Sun is forbidden in the Bible.
possibility stems from the evidence of Persian names in residence at
Amarna. These were literate people who may have transcribed
Akenaten's poems. This would have placed the essence of this poem in
Babylon, a world center for literature, by 600BC when the Jews were
in exile, and the early Hebrew bible was assembled.
Dr. H. Brugsch
collected quite a few epithets and quotes from Egyptian scripture
around fifty years ago and published them in his work, 'Religion and
Mythology'. Much of Psalm 104 is vaguely similar to Egyptian Hymns,
such as the following hymn to Ra from the Papyrus of Hu-nefer:
O thou who art
crowned king amongst the gods...
[Here is expressed the polytheistic point of view]
Thou art the lord of heaven,
Thou art the lord of the earth;
Thou art the creator of those who dwell in the heights,
Those who dwell in the depths.
Thou art the One God who came into being at the
beginning of time.
[monotheism was beginning throughout the world with the idea of
the "God of Gods", and is consistent with the concept of G-d in the
Thou didst create the earth,
Thou dist fashion the man,
Thou didst make the watery abyss of the sky...
Thou dost travel across the sky with thy heart swelling
The great deep of heaven is content thereat..."
abyss of the sky" is similar to the Sumerian creation story, of 1500
years previous, where gods parted the water to create the world with
a third god [see History begins at Sumer, by Noah Kramer]. This idea
is repeated in Genesis with the actions of one God. The idea of
water being above and below solves the enigma of where rain comes
from. The Veda, Hindu scripture, considered this Sumerian story but
concluded: "who cares" and left the process of creation unanswered.
Attributing the Lord with the characteristics of the sun.
The Psalm 104 starts out attributing the Lord with the
characteristics of the Sun. This is found nowhere else in the
coverest thyself with light as with a garment; Who stretchest out
the heavens like a curtain. 3. Who layeth the beams of his chambers
in the waters. Who maketh the clouds his chariot; Who walketh on the
wings of the wind; Who maketh winds his messengers; Flames of fire
A search for
references in the Bible to the sun is within our grasp. You may skim
over the following scripture of the types of references to the Sun:* The Sun
as what it is... just the sun.
Genesis 1:14 And
God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to
divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for
seasons, and for days, and years:15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the
heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. 16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to
rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: [he made] the
stars also. 17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give
light upon the earth, 18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to
divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that [it was] good.
Deuteronomy 33:14 And for the precious fruits [brought forth] by the
sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon . . .
* The sun
as a symbol of permanency and endurance:
Matthew 5:45 (That ye may be the children of your Father which is in
heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good,
sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.)
Psalms 72:5 They
shall fear thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all
generations. 17 His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be
continued as long as the sun: and [men] shall be blessed in him: all
nations shall call him blessed. 89:36 His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the
sun before me.
* The Sun
must not become an object of worship:
And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest
the sun, and the moon, and the stars, [even] all the host of heaven,
shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which Yahweh
thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.
Psalms 136:7 To him that made great lights: for his mercy [endureth]
for ever: 8 The sun to rule by day: for his mercy [endureth] for
ever . . .
Ezekiel 8:16 And he brought me into the inner court of Yahweh's
house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of Yahweh, between
the porch and the altar, [were] about five and twenty men, with
their backs toward the temple of Yahweh, and their faces toward
the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east. 17 Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen [this], O son of
man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the
abominations which they commit here?
* The sun
was darkened at the time of Jesus' crucifixion, and will be darkened
again at the time of his return to judge the world:
Matthew 27:45 Now
from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the
Mark 13:24 (But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall
be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,) 25 (And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that
are in heaven shall be shaken.) 26 (And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the
clouds with great power and glory.) 27 (And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather
together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of
the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.)
yourself with majesty and splendor,
And array yourself with glory and beauty." [Job 40:10]
the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
Who has ears to hear, let him hear." [Matthew 13:43]
of Jesus when He was with Moses and Elijah in the mount with His
transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and His
raiment was white as the light." [Matthew 17:2]
talking about what he saw on the road to Damascus, and learned that
He was seeing Jesus at the right hand of the 'Majesty' of God:
"...at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven,
brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed
with me." [Acts 26:13]
describing the One like the Son of Man, John in Revelation says
"He had in His
right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged
sword, and his countenance was like the sun shining in its
strength." [this is similar to a typical Egyptian sun poem]
"And the city
had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the
glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof."
shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of
the sun; for the Lord God gives them light: and they shall reign for
ever and ever." [Revelation 22:5]
Only in Psalm 104 could the chosen
description of Yahweh
be construed as that of the sun..
points of comparison: Psalm 104 and the Hymn to Aten
text in [--] is from Psalm 104 while the remainder is quoted
translation by J.H.Breasted, from Cambridge Ancient History, Vol.
II, Chapters 5 & 6.. and "The Rock Tombs of Tell el Armarna",
Archeological Survey, Egyptian Exploration Society (6vol, 1903) N.
de G. Davis.
[20. Thou makest darkness, and it is night,
Wherein all the beasts of the forest creep forth. 21. The young
Lions roar after their prey, And seek their food from God.] The
tradition of Egyptian, Hindu, and Hebrew cultures starts the day at
sunset. Today the day normally starts at sunrise.
AKENATEN'S THE HYMN TO THE SUN
When thou settest in the western horizon of the sky,
[1st comparison, verse 20]
The earth is in darkness like the dead.
They sleep in their chambers
Their heads are wrapped up.
Their nostrils are stopped
And none see the other.
While all their things are stolen
Which are under their heads
And they know it not
Every Lion cometh forth from his den
[2nd comparison, verse 21]
All Serpents they sting
Darkness The world is in silence.
He that made them resteth in his horizon.
Sun riseth, they get them away,
and lay them down in their dens. 23. Man
goeth forth unto his work And to his labor until
is the earth when thou riseth in the horizon.
[3rd , 22]
When thou shinest as Aten by day
Thou drivest away the darkness.
When thou sendest forth thy rays
The two lands (Egypt) are in daily festivity.
Awake and standing upon their feet
When thou has raised them up.
Their limbs bathed they take their clothing
Their arms uplifted in adoration to thy dawning
Then in all the world they do their work.. [4th, 23]
rest upon their pasturage
The trees and the plants flourish
them the birds of the heavens have their
habitation. They sing among the branches.]
flutter in their marshes, [5th, 12]
Their wings uplifted in adoration to thee.
All sheep dance on their feet.
All winged things fly,
They live when thou hast shone upon them.
is the sea great and wide. Wherein
are things creeping innumerable. Both small and
great beasts. 26. There go the ships.]
sail upstream and downstream alike.
Every highway is open because thou dawnest.
The fish in the river leap before thee.
Thy rays are in the midst of the great green sea.
Creator of the germ in woman
Maker of the seed in man
Giving life to the son in the body of his mother
Soothing him that he may not weep.
Nurse (even) in the womb.
hidest thy face, they are troubled.
Thou takest away their breath and they die.
And return to their dust.]
breath to animals, every one that he maketh
When he cometh forth from the womb [7th, 29]
On the day of their birth
Thou openest his mouth in speech
wait all for thee. That thou may give them
food in due season.]
suppliest his necessities.[8th, 27]
fledgling in the egg chirps in the shell
Thou givest him breath there-in to preserve him alive.
When thou hast brought him together
to (the point of) bursting it in the egg
To chirp with all his might,
He goeth about on his two feet
When he hath come forth therefrom.
are thy works,
They are hidden from before (us)
O Sole God, whose powers no other possesseth.
Thou didst create the earth according to thy heart
While thou wast alone
Man, all cattle, large and small
All that are upon the earth
That go about on their feet
(All) That are on high
That fly with their wings
The foreign countries, Syria and Kush,
The land of Egypt
Thou settest every man into his place
Thou suppliest their necessities
Everyone has his possessions
And his days are reckoned
The tongues are divers in speech
Their forms likewise and their skins are distinguished
(For) thou makest different the strangers.
There is no
doubt that the evolution of ideas throughout the history of human
endeavors is a combination of past knowledge and original thinking.
However, as short as sixty years ago, there is little doubt that the
archaeologists who discovered the similarities in ancient texts were
astounded since they had been raised to believe in the Bible as the
"only word of God". The importance that Realistic Idealism assigns
to this study is not to denigrate any of these early beliefs, but to
examine why the Biblical scripture has lasted to be arguably the
most read and influential literature in the history of mankind.
Yahweh and the Sun: Biblical and Archaeological Evidence for Sun Worship in Ancient Israel
By J. Glen Taylor / Continuum International
This challenging provocative book argues that there was in ancient Israel a considerable degree of overlap between the worship of the sun and of Yahweh-even that Yahweh was worshipped as the sun in some contexts. As an object created not by humankind but by God himself, the sun as an object of veneration lay outside the bounds of the second commandment and was considered by many to be an appropriate 'icon' of Yahweh of Hosts. Through its ivestigation of 'solar Yahwism', this book offers fresh insight into several passages (e.g.Genesis 1;32.23-33; Joshua 10.12-14; 1 Kings 8.12; Ezekiel 8.16-18; Psalms 19;104) and archaeological data regarding the orientations of Yawistic temples, the "lmlk" jar handles ,horse figurines, and the Taanach cult stand. The book argues that the struggle between Yahweh and other deities in ancint Israel took place within the context of the development of Yahwism itself.