A Single God Before Yahweh
Hebrews Plagiarized Akhenaten's God, Aten
They called him Yahweh
“Monotheism owes its origins to ancient Egypt. From 1379BC to 1362BC, during the time that the Israelites lived there, the country was ruled by Amenhotep IV. He substituted a universal and virtually exclusive supreme god, Aten, for the traditional polytheistic pantheon. So convinced was Amenhotep of the existence of this supreme deity that he changed his name to Akhenaten, meaning literally, “raising the high name of Aten”. No icon of this super-deity was allowed but, in Akhenaten’s imagination, the god was symbolized by the disc of the sun, winged and with outstretched hands. The god Aten and the notion of the pharaoh returning to his creator, the Sun, was in use in at least 2000 BC.”
— Robert Schroëder (2007)
Akhenaten, the First to Worship One God, Chapter 12
“This is what I’m talking about.” Neal was excited. “In the Bible, Psalm 104 tells of the great manifestation of God's all-encompassing power. He created grass for cattle to eat, and trees for birds to nest in, and the sea for ships to sail on and for fish to swim in. He recited the psalm.
“The similarity is astounding, isn't it?” He continued.
“Comparing these passages, who could argue some form of cultural exchange was moving from Egypt to Israel? How else can we avoid the conclusion the ancient Hebrew who wrote Psalm 104 has somehow borrowed from Akhenaten's Hymn to the Aten?”
“But I thought the Exodus never really happened, it was a biblical invention.”
“Yes and no. Not as grand as the mass chaotic movement we watched Charlton Heston achieve on the movie The Ten Commandments. He was the one who yelled ‘Let my people go!’ That was not true, it didn’t happen that way, not at all.”
“The real exodus was the learning of common religious beliefs the ancient Hebrews received from the Egyptians. The pharaohs had many wives, and a lot of them were from the modern day region of Syria and Israel. There was a lot of exchange between them, starting with Thutmose I, who established an outpost in the Middle East at Karkamış, on the Euphrates River. Along with the Tigris, Karkamış was established as one of the centers of human power. That’s why it is called the cradle of civilization. This cradle became intertwined with Egypt during the Amarna Age and resulted in a radical shifting of religious thought from many gods and goddesses to only one. Akhenaten forbade the worship of other gods, a radical departure from the previous thousand years of Egyptian religious practice. Then he issued a royal decree the name Aten was no longer to be depicted by the hieroglyph of a solar disc emanating rays but instead had to be spelled out phonetically…”
With the reign of Akhenaten, the worship of Aten came to its pinnacle. He started his reign in the capitol city of Thebes, but had difficulties with the powerful priesthood of Amen-Re which had its main temple at Karnak. In the fifth year of his reign he disbanded the priesthood of all the other gods in Egypt except Aten. He changed the religion from polytheistic to monotheistic. The King changed his name to Akenaten, meaning "servant of Aten." In addition, he moved the capitol city from Thebes to a newly constructed city of Akhetaten.
Akhenaten forbade the worship of other gods, a radical departure from the previous thousand years of Egyptian religious practice. Then he issued a royal decree the name Aten was no longer to be depicted by the hieroglyph of a solar disc emanating rays but instead had to be spelled out phonetically…”
“He was the first person of substantial power to proclaim the absolute power of a man-like god. He pushed his position to the extreme and became the only mouthpiece for the Aten sun god. This made all the priests subservient to him. It was radical back then, and it really pissed the Amen priesthood off.”
“So you’re laying the foundation of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam on an Egyptian pharaoh?"
“Sort of, Katie. If it weren’t him it would have been someone else shortly after him. This was the Bronze Age, the age of weapons and far-reaching conquest. Akhenaten was in touch with the entire world. His great, great grandfather succeeded in connecting two cradles of civilization when he erected a stone in Karkamış. This was something never done before, and the Amarna letters, the official correspondence, allowed him to successfully deal with these other powers he knew he couldn’t conquer.”
“But how did it reinforce his male dominated religious viewpoints?”
“Success in the Bronze Age was dictated by the male psyche. Men were the harbingers of this new metal age, this Bronze Age, and women were left behind. The strongest civilizations were the ones embracing the technology of male minds. These same minds decided it was time men ruled absolutely, placing one big man-god above all others. Technology started what Akhenaten realized, and those men who played to the male god became the deciders of civilization for the next three thousand years.”
“Why were men favored over women?”
“Men paid attention to the technological details. It took science and concentrated effort to smelt bronze and to construct ships to could float up the Nile and sail back. Technology became the power broker, and women were increasingly left out of the mix. It all started right then.”
“But it wasn’t a coup, it was a gradual, a very gradual change. Even if Akhenaten didn’t cause those things to be said in the Bible, someone after him did. It was someone who understood the supremacy of the male psyche at that time in our history.”
”Do you think it was a good or bad thing?”
”Technology hurtled a male-based civilization into the twentieth century. But civilization paid a price with the loss of women’s voices. It resulted in a loss of empathy and compassion, and instead focused on goals and conquests.”
“I never felt this dichotomy in my native religion,” Katie said.
“That’s because the Indians never made it to the technological point of metallurgy. They never did figure out how to smelt minerals into weapons.”
“Why would it make a difference in developing a religion, Rick?” She asked.
“The process of melting iron ore into iron slag is a physically tedious process the few females can do for long. The ore must be mined; the larger rocks have to be smashed into ore nuggets. A furnace as big as a person needs to be constructed with enough firewood available to bring a fire to 2000 degrees for a long period, along with a fellow constantly working the goatskin billows. Each of these steps requires a person with a strong back, and strength, this is why men actively worked this technology. I imagine it would also be a male-bonding moment, any of this. You know digging in the ground, collecting firewood, tending a fire all day. It’s the perfect weekend in suburbia, especially when the priesthood comes out with brew.”
With the reign of Amenhotep IV, whom we know more familiarly as Akhenaten, the worship of Aten came to its pinnacle. Amenhotep IV started his reign in the capitol city of Thebes. He had difficulties with the powerful priesthood of Amen-Re which had its main temple at Karnak. In the fifth year of his reign, he disbanded the priesthood of all the other gods in Egypt except Aten. He changed the religion from polytheistic to monotheistic. The King changed his name to Akenaten, meaning "servant of Aten." In addition, he moved the capitol city from Thebes to a newly constructed city of Akhetaten.
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Akhenaten, the First to Worship One God, Chapter 12