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Journal of Creation 34(1):16–18, April 2020

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What’s the point of the pyramids?

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There is evidence from the Great Pyramids of Egypt that may well be testimony to the events of creation and the Flood. It is literally the point of the pyramid, the so-called ‘benben’, which points towards this evidence. The benben, or the primeval mound, represented in the minds of the ancient Egyptians the first land that appeared from the primeval ocean, called the ‘Nun’. It was upon this land that the first eight ‘gods’ sprang into being; four males and their wives, headed by the chief god, called ‘Nu’. This all sounds remarkably evocative of Noah’s family stepping onto the land after the Flood.

Merja Attia/Flickr.comfig-1
Figure 1. Benben stone from a 12th Dynasty pyramid.

Such connections are to be expected when we remember that Egypt in the Old Testament is called ‘the land of Ham’ in the Psalms, and is called ‘Mizraim’ throughout the Hebrew Old Testament.1 Ham, Noah’s son, would have naturally taken with him knowledge about creation and the Flood, passing it on to his son Mizraim, and on through the generations.2 The Egyptian civilization is one of those, along with Mesopotamian ones, which arose much sooner following the Flood than others around the world—not surprising since the point of dispersal for humanity was ‘the plain of Shinar’ (Sumeria/Mesopotamia).

The benben—the point of the pyramid

There are numerous examples of benben stones stored in museums around the world. A famous example of a benben, presently kept in the Cairo museum, belonged to the 12th Dynasty Pyramid of Amenemhat III (see figure 1).

Egyptologist James Allen explains the ancient Egyptian ideas of creation: “The benben was a pyramid-shaped mound symbolizing the first land that appeared from Nu at the creation.”3 The Nu (or Nun) was the Egyptian idea of a primeval ocean, or flood. The benben stone was a central feature of the more ancient solar temples, which Egyptologist David Silverman states

“ … were constructed, in addition to the pyramids, by six Fifth-Dynasty kings and based on the sun temple of Heliopolis. The focus of each temple was an altar before a benben, a squat obelisk with a pyramid point representing the hill over which the sun rose at the beginning of creation.”4

Up from the depths

The idea of the primeval mound rising up from the primeval ocean occurs in two versions, one from Heliopolis (which is now a suburb of modern Cairo), and the other from Hermopolis (located 322 km south of Cairo, at the modern city of El Ashmunein).5 These ideas are evocative of the accounts of both creation and the Flood in Genesis. To explain: during Creation Week, God called the dry land to appear from the Great Deep on Day 3 (Genesis 1:9, 10). At the end of the Flood the text states: “And the waters continued to abate until … the tops of the mountains were seen” (Genesis 8:5). In both cases, land emerges from a state of watery chaos. It may also be significant that the word ‘Nu’ is linguistically very close to the name of Noah, which is still Nûh in modern Arabic, for example. In the Heliopolitan version, after the primal mound arose from the Nun, onto it sprang an Egyptian creator god, called Atum. He created two children called Shu and Tefēnet.6

Within pyramids that are from an era in the Old Kingdom called the 5th Dynasty are inscribed pyramid texts (PT) which were believed to protect the deceased pharaoh in the afterlife. The pyramid of a pharaoh called Pepis II has inscribed in it a spell:

“O Atum … you became high on the height, you rose up as the bnbn-stone in … Ōn, you [created] Shu, and Tefēnet … O Atum, set your arms about the King, about this construction, and about this pyramid … that the King’s essence may be in it, enduring forever … .” 7

This inscription describes the hope of the pharaoh for the afterlife in relation to his pyramid.

Biblical connections to place names

fig-2
Figure 2. Wall painting, c.1164–1157 BC, showing Ra-Atum slaying Apophis at the Ished tree.

The city mentioned in this pyramid text occurs in the Bible as “Ōn”, where one of Joseph’s wives, Asenath, is introduced as “the daughter of Potipherah priest of Ōn” (Genesis 41:45, 50; 46:20). The Greeks called the city ‘Heliopolis’, meaning ‘City of the Sun’. The Egyptians called Ōn ‘Iunu’, which means ‘pillar’ (or obelisk, in reference to the benben).8 The chief temple of Ōn was called the ‘Great House of Atum (Per-Atum)’9, which occurs in the Bible as ‘Pithom’,10 the place where the Hebrew slaves built Pharaoh’s grain stores (Exodus 11:1). However, the Hebrew slaves were not responsible for building the pyramids; that is a myth started, surprisingly, by Josephus, the Jewish historian.11

Atum who?

The ancient Egyptians viewed Atum as a solar deity (Re), and in his role as a creator-god his responsibility was to hold back the forces of chaos by destroying the evil snake called Apophis. In tomb paintings,12 and in papyrus rolls buried with mummies—containing spells for protection in the afterlife, called The Book of the Dead—are a number of colourful images that depict Apophis being slain by Re-Atum. He is depicted in the form of a tomcat, which the Egyptians considered the natural enemy of snakes (figure 2). Re-Atum is depicted either cutting off or stamping on the head of Apophis, a ritual re-enacted by the priests of Ōn, with models of snakes.13


In front of Re-Atum and Apophis is the sacred Ished tree, which was believed to grow on the primal mound at Heliopolis. The Ished tree was linked to wisdom, as evidenced from inscriptions at Ramesses’ II temple at Thebes (c. 1300 BC), which picture Thoth (the god of wisdom) seated on a throne and Sheshat (a goddess of writing, known as ‘foremost in the library’) standing alongside, writing on the tree’s leaves.14 Many of these aspects are evocative of the Fall narrative in Genesis 3, although the Egyptian telling is somewhat on its head when we consider Adam was vanquished by the serpent at the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Gospel promise is that the Last Adam would be the One to crush the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15 cf. Romans 16:20; 1 Corinthians 15:25).

Then there were eight

wikipedia.orgfig-3
Figure 3. The Ogdoad hoe, the primeval mound.

The Hermopolitan version of the primeval mound rising from the Nun involved eight creator gods springing onto the mound at the first sunrise. This group are known as the ‘Ogdoad’ by Egyptologists (from Greek, meaning ‘eight’), consisting of four males and their wives.15 The chief was called Nu, who was described as ‘the father of the gods’.16 Their names appear in the Pyramid Texts, either as divine titles (Nu and Naunet, Amun and Amunet), or concepts that describe the forces of chaos—Kek, meaning ‘darkness’, and Heh, meaning ‘unlimited’.17 They also appear in The Book of the Dead, and a colourful vignette shows the Ogdoad hoeing the earth on the primeval mound on the first day of creation (figure 3). (The two goddesses are pouring out the waters of Nun).18 Allowing for the way in which real events rapidly become distorted with time and retelling, this is very evocative of Noah and his family setting up farming for the first time after the Flood, and may well be a memory handed down from Ham and Mizraim.

Conclusion

The hope of the pharaoh for the afterlife involved being buried beneath the benben, to be reborn and see the first sunrise in the afterlife. Such thinking was futile. As believers in Jesus Christ (the True Light of the world), we are assured that we will rise with Him. After Jesus’ burial He conquered death; His tomb is empty, unlike those of the pharaohs. So next time you see the pyramids, remember the point—the benben—which may well be evidence of ideas handed down from Ham and Mizraim about creation and the Flood.

References and notes

  1. Egypt is called ‘Mizraim’ 611 times in the Hebrew Bible, and the ‘tents/ land of Ham’ are referred to in Psalms 78:51; 105:23, 27; 106:22. Return to text.
  2. This is consistent with the Table of Nations as laid out in Genesis 10. Return to text.
  3. Allen, J.P., The ancient Egyptian pyramid texts, Society of Biblical Literature, Atlanta, GA, p. 427, 2005. Return to text.
  4. Silverman, D.P., Ancient Egypt, Oxford University Press, New York, p. 188, 1997. Return to text.
  5. Another later creation myth was engraved on the Shabako stone, termed the Memphite theology, which refers to the rising primal mound as a deity in its own right, Ta-tanen. Return to text.
  6. Silverman, ref. 4, p. 123. Return to text.
  7. Faulkner, R.O., The ancient Egyptian pyramid texts, Oxford University Press, New York, p. 246, 1969. Return to text.
  8. jwn, interestingly jwn-nw.w means ‘pillar of Nu’. Return to text.
  9. pr-jtm.w. Return to text.
  10. According to Koehler, L. and Baumgartner B., Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, 7821 “ פִּתֹם : place name; Egyptian pr-ʼitm “the house (temple) of Atum …”. Return to text.
  11. Whiston, W. (trans.), The Works of Josephus Complete and Unabridged, chapter 9, p. 97, 1974. Return to text.
  12. BOD, chapter 17, Deir el-Medina tomb painting. In Pinch, G., Egyptian Mythology, Oxford University Press, New York, p. 107, 2002. Return to text.
  13. Pinch, ref. 12, p. 108. Return to text.
  14. Sheshat and Thoth fixed the length of a king’s reign by inscribing his name on the leaves of the Ished tree at Heliopolis. Return to text.
  15. Cox, G., The search for Noah and the Flood in Ancient Egypt-part 1, J. Creation 33(3):94–101, 2019; Cox, G.,The search for Noah and the Flood in Ancient Egypt-part 2, J. Creation 33(3):102–108, 2019. Return to text.
  16. Pinch, ref. 12, pp 172–173. Return to text.
  17. Pinch, ref. 12, pp. 175–177. Return to text.
  18. Silverman, ref. 4, p. 121. Return to text.

Readers’ comments

Jonatan B.
Are Egyptian Pyramids the altar to the LORD heart of Egypt in Isaiah 19:19-20?

The Pyramid’s height in inches equals the sum of all the letters in the Hebrew text of Isaiah 19:19-20 (5449).
(source:Gracetoyou)

What about Pyramids in Mexico, is it have same purpose like you explained about egyptian Pyramids?
Gavin Cox
Hi Jonatan,
Thanks for your very interesting question! Firstly the 4th Dynasty Pyramid of Khufu known as the Great Pyramid of Giza is a huge monument to paganism, so would not be legitimised in Scripture as being "an altar to the LORD" as discussed in Isaiah 19:19-20. However, this "altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt" is very likely to be found in Elephantine, near Aswan, which is also at the border of Egypt. In 1901-1904 a stash of Aramaic documents were discovered in Elephantine demonstrating there was a Jewish community there from the time of the wicked Israelite king of Judah Manasseh. The papyri also mention the Jewish temple there which was standing before the Persian invasion in 525 BC. These papyri reveal a lot about Jewish life in the Israelite diaspora of Egypt.: The text of one papyrus states:
"During the days of the kings of Egypt [i.e., when Egypt was independent] our forefathers built that temple in the Elephantine fortress, and when [the Persian ruler] Cambyses entered Egypt, he found that temple built."
The Jewish temple remained until 410 B.C. when it was destroyed by Egyptian priests aided by a Persian official.
God foresaw the Jewish presence along with their temple during the time of Manasseh's evil reign and used Isaiah (who started his ministry c. 742 BC) to prophecy words of encouragement to the future Jewish community.

Regarding the height of the Pyramid, Dr. Mark Lehner, who is a world expert on the Pyramids, writing with Zahi Hawass (Egyptologist and former Minister of Egyptian Antiquities) in 2017 state that the Great Pyramid (assuming you are referring to it) when taking into account the capstone and casing was 481 feet tall, which makes 5772 inches, which does not support the Gematria (Hebrew numerology) of adding up the numerical value of the Hebrew letters of Isaiah 19:19-20 being 5449 (inches) as you suggest (I've not checked, and I doubt I will) as I would consider such approaches to Scripture highly questionable. We need to arrive at a correct understanding of the plain text of Scripture first, and not look for supposed hidden codes or esoteric meanings. I am very certain the Elephantine papyrus stash reveal the actual historical reality of a righteous remnant in Egypt, worshipping God during a time of great persecution and idolatry in Israel/ Juda, foreseen by Isaiah, who wrote to them to encourage them.

Regarding pyramids in Mexico, pyramids have been reported/ claimed by researchers on every continent of the globe! There could be a connection to Babel here, as people migrated away and across the earth, they took the pagan notion of trying to reach heaven to worship the host of heaven in pagan idolatry. Also a pyramid form is the most basic and stable construction form, so would naturally be used by people to make huge edifices. Certainly the South American pyramids were the sites of very grizzly pagan worship including human sacrifice. However, I am not sure of their connection to either Creation or the Flood.
Hope that helps.
Andres M.
An interesting fact is that the 10 plagues that YHWH sent to the Egyptians, represented their gods, since they believed that the Egyptian gods represented states of nature (similar to pantheism) and God showed them who was the true sovereign God, defeating Ra and the other false Egyptian gods. Without a doubt, it was an interesting method the way in which God punished the Egyptians, greetings.
Joshua M.
An excellent example of CMI's inadequately researched reasoning. Associating the 8 gods of ancient Egypt with the 8 persons on the ark is Euhemerism: that a human referent is the likely origin of deity myths. It is far more likely that 8 celestial objects known at the time were meant, given Egyptian fixation with gods of the sky like Ra, Osiris, Horus, Set, etc. Secondly, associating the primal mound as referring only to mountains/earth in a post-Flood context ignores a plethora of comparative data regarding the centrality of the axis mundi to not only Egyptian, but all early creation myths (Marinus Anthony van der Sluijs, Traditional Cosmology 6 Vols., 2011- 2018; idem, On the Origin of Myths in Catastrophic Experience, 2019). It is far more likely that the primal mound is a reference to the axis mundi, not a local mountain. Local mountains became associated with the axis mundi after the latter's disappearance from the sky. Thirdly, by ignoring the role of plasma cosmology and its many manifestations in world myth, especially as a physical entity in the sky perceived worldwide as a the aforementioned axis mundi: a mountain, river, tree, serpent, ladder, rope, CMI will only continue to bankrupt themselves of a fuller and richer understanding of this truly perplexing theme. It certainly points back at a catastrophic past for our world, and not at all dependent on a single global flood. The Nile had a habit of flooding, and not just from rain far upstream, but from an electrified sea gushing inland from downstream amidst repeated catastrophic events. The Nile's clear, filamentary Lichtenberg fractal catchment pattern is all the evidence one requires. Electricity once roamed this entire earth and CMI refuses to acknowledge its important role in past world cataclysm.
Gavin Cox
"An excellent example of CMI's inadequately researched reasoning."

My research you are referring to was originally published in CMI’s Journal of Creation, which is a peer reviewed journal, and was anonymously reviewed by professional Egyptologists and several editors. All of CMI’s articles, whether on the web, or through Creation magazine, or Creation Journal go through a stringent peer review process by academics and editors who are expert in the relevant subject areas. Furthermore, much of my research on Egyptian beliefs about Creation and the Flood were part of my Master’s Degree Thesis, which was awarded through a top UK (secular) university, by PhD professional academics working in Egyptology.

"Associating the 8 gods of ancient Egypt with the 8 persons on the ark is Euhemerism: that a human referent is the likely origin of deity myths."

We need to carefully define our terms; you use “Euhemerism.” This is derived from the name of a Greek writer who lived around 300 BC called Euhemerus. He taught that certain gods were originally notable persons who became deified due to their greatness. I think this is a perfectly reasonable position to take with certain caution of course.
When it comes to Egyptology, a very well attested phenomenon is that real people of history were deified by the Egyptians—whether the king in his life time, or other notable persons. The parade example of an historical person who was deified was the Egyptian chancellor, and high priest, Imhotep, the architect of king Djoser’s 3rd Dynasty step pyramid. 2000 years after his death he was worshipped as a god of medicine and healing, and became a deified brother of another architect called Amenhotep, who himself was deified. Interestingly the Greeks equated Imhotep with their god of health and healing—Asclepius, who was himself a deified mortal. So when it comes to your criticism, no I don’t think my research can be simply dismissed by attaching the “Euhemerism” label to it. The Egyptians deified pretty much anything that moved (and also that didn’t move)—this is the nature of paganism.
However, you are assuming pure “Euhemerism” if you believe Noah and his family never existed, or that the Flood never happened. In which case your assumptions demand that the 8 gods worshipped by the Egyptians were never real persons. That is simply an assumption on your part.

"It is far more likely that 8 celestial objects known at the time were meant, given Egyptian fixation with gods of the sky like Ra, Osiris, Horus, Set, etc."

If the primary sources stated that celestial objects were deified as the Ogdoad, the eight gods worshipped by the Egyptians, then you would have a case. But none of the primary sources state that. In all my research, (my Journal articles on the Ogdoad are freely available, and are all based on primary sources and academic literature, see here ). You will see that I base everything I say on primary sources/documents/texts, the oldest being considered the most authoritative for the Egyptians. That would be the 4-6th Dynasty Pyramid Texts, followed by the Coffin Texts (First Intermediate Period), then the Book of the Dead (New Kingdom onwards). Here the names of the Ogdoad appear in the Pyramid Texts as masculine and feminine. Egyptologists know their meanings: Nu and Nuette (refer to the deep primeval waters), Kek and Kekette (darkness), Heh and Hehette (expansiveness), and Amun and Amunette (air/ invisibility). All these concepts are associated with the formless creation (Nu/ Nun), out of which creation came in the form of the Primaeval mound (Benben). So no, it is not “far more likely” as you suggest. You fail to base any of your reasoning on actual evidence or data. You mention the gods Ra, Osiris, Horus, Set, as examples of gods of the sky. (Set is not a good example). We only know this from the primary sources, that these gods were associated with the sun. However, the Ogdoad were associated with the primeval flood and creation, they were never solarised or were associated with stars.

"Secondly, associating the primal mound as referring only to mountains/earth in a post-Flood context ignores a plethora of comparative data regarding the centrality of the axis mundi to not only Egyptian, but all early creation myths (Marinus Anthony van der Sluijs, Traditional Cosmology 6 Vols., 2011- 2018; idem, On the Origin of Myths in Catastrophic Experience, 2019)."

This is where you have got distracted with much opinion. Again, from the Egyptian evidence, the Primeval mound was the first land that appeared at creation, and is symbolized by the Egyptian pyramid cap stone called the Benben. The Benben arose from the Nun/ Nu, the Primeval ocean, or Flood. In one version of the story (Heliopolitan cosmology), Atum appeared on the mound and created, and in the Hermopolitan version, the Ogdoad appeared upon it and created. My comparison with Genesis Creation and the Flood are highly instructive. And my thesis is that these are paganized representations of the accounts in Genesis of both Creation and the Flood, via Ham, Noah’s third son who populated Egypt after Babel and his descendants. Your cited reference, “Traditional Cosmology” is not an Egyptological academic resource, it may be useful for comparative religion, but I wouldn’t consider it authoritative when it comes to understanding Egyptian sources. The idea of an axis mundi, I would not consider is an Egyptological term.

"It is far more likely that the primal mound is a reference to the axis mundi, not a local mountain."

You can only say something is “far more likely” if you have studied the Egyptian primary sources and weighed the evidence. I don’t see your opinion being backed up by fact.

"Local mountains became associated with the axis mundi after the latter's disappearance from the sky."

I can think of no justification for this statement from Egyptological sources.

"Thirdly, by ignoring the role of plasma cosmology and its many manifestations in world myth..."

The reason I ignore it is because such a belief has nothing to do with Egyptology as a serious academic discipline.

"...especially as a physical entity in the sky perceived worldwide as a the aforementioned axis mundi: a mountain, river, tree, serpent, ladder, rope..."

You have wandered far from any academic credibility by espousing New Age nonsense.

"CMI will only continue to bankrupt themselves of a fuller and richer understanding of this truly perplexing theme."

I can assure you CMI will not “bankrupt themselves” by staying far from pseudoscientific mumbo jumbo.

"It certainly points back at a catastrophic past for our world, and not at all dependent on a single global flood."

Scripture is CMI’s starting point, as we are presuppositional, God’s Word is true historically, as it is true in every other area it comments on. So when it comes to the Global Flood, we treat that as an historical fact. We do not deny, that there were other ‘floods’ or catastrophes in earth’s history.

"The Nile had a habit of flooding, and not just from rain far upstream..."

This is true. However, the Nun/ Nu and ideas of a global flood judgment are easily distinguishable from Nile floods within Egyptian texts.

"...but from an electrified sea gushing inland from downstream amidst repeated catastrophic events."

I have no idea regarding what you mean by an “electrified sea,” this strikes me as more pseudoscience. Although some Nile floods were catastrophic, they had nothing to do with your proposed “electrified sea.” High Nile floods were caused by monsoon weather from excessive precipitation in the Ethiopian highlands.

"The Nile's clear, filamentary Lichtenberg fractal catchment pattern is all the evidence one requires."

Evidence needs to be correctly interpreted it does not 'speak for itself' if you start with the wrong starting assumptions, you will of necessity draw wrong conclusions. Fractal patterns were described by Georg Christoph Litchenberg in 1777, to describe such things as lightening, and high voltage patterns. They look superficially like drainage patterns in deltas, such as the Nile. However, the Nile Delta is caused by flowing water, not high voltage. So this is more pseudoscientific mumbo jumbo.

"Electricity once roamed this entire earth and CMI refuses to acknowledge its important role in past world cataclysm."

And you criticise me for having a biblical world-view? Actually CMI hasn’t ignored this pseudoscientific idea, we have an article on it see: CMI’s response to the ‘electric universe. Having said that, it has nothing to do whatsoever with my article, so you have wandered far from Egyptology into sheer fantasy and unbridled speculation.
I hope that helps,
Yours,
Gavin
Nathan G.
If you want a good summary of the connectedness of other ancient beliefs and people groups with the Biblical story, start with Bill Cooper's book, After the Flood. He bases the book on the Table of Nations in Genesis and shows how the various descendants of Noah's sons in Europe, northern Africa and western Asia settled the land. Tied to this are traceable genealogies of deified ancestors such as Odin and Thor in Germanic and Celtic cultures. Cooper also shows that Nimrod can also be tied to Gilgamesh (another twisted version of the Flood story) and his search for Utnapishtim (he who passed through the waters) in the Middle East. There are also analogs to Noah in India and other cultures.
If you read the books written by Robert Bowie Johnson, he presents a good argument that Greek mythology continued the Babylonian tradition and worshipped the fallen Adam and the evil Eve in the form of Zeus and Athena. All of the major Greek gods are descendants of Adam, Eve and Noah. Nimrod appears in he form of Hercules and his 12 labors. Noah appears as Nereus, the "salty one", and several other water figures. The tree in Eden is found in the Garden of the Hesperides.
Ethel Nelson and several others have written that the Chinese also knew the Genesis story up to the scattering at Babel. This is revealed in the earliest Chinese radicals (pictograms). Confucius, a contemporary of the major prophets on the OT, was looking for the Tao (God), which had been lost. The original monotheistic ideas in Chinese religion had also been lost by his time.
Hope this helps. God bless.
Ruth A.
Thank you for this excellent article. I studied Egyptology at university, specialising in the ancient Egyptian language and script. I could not make head or tail of the Egyptian religion. I was not a believer at the time, and looking at it from a secular point of view, it seemed so complex and confusing. This article has drawn some fascinating parallels with the Biblical account. I was also fascinated by the beginnings of Pharaonic civilisation - there were clear influences on the early Egyptian predynastic by Sumer and depictions of a hero figure who seems like a good candidate for the Biblical Nimrod. I would love to read a scholarly Christian account of the evidence. [link deleted per feedback rules]Egypt%E2%80%93Mesopotamia_relations. Many thanks for all you do.
Gavin Cox
Hi Ruth, many thanks for your kind words. I also studied Egyptian language at Masters degree level, my final year exam involved a 3 hour translation of several pages of hieroglyphic text! However, it was the Egyptian religion I particularly found fascinating, and the parallels with Genesis, Creation and the Flood I could clearly see, despite the accounts being paganized. If you are interested in keeping up-to-date on my research, I have plenty more in the pipe-line to be published in the Journal of Creation, I can recommend you sign up if you haven't already, it is available now as a hi quality digital download, in the same format as the physical journal, it is available here:

Regarding your comment on Nimrod, CMI has written some things on him see: Perspectives on ancient chronology and the Old Testament—part 1
Daniel M.
This is very interesting indeed. Could it then be that the Egyptian attachment to the cat is based upon the legendary promise of a Redeemer to crush the serpent's head? Things portrayed in worship liturgies contain truths that strike deep in the memory and soul of the worshipers. Therefore, it would seem that there was a certain correspondence between the religion of the Hebrews and that of Egypt, giving Joseph and his brothers a certain mission to the Pharaohs to correct their religious and historical knowledge. The fact that pharaoh recognized that Joseph was a true man of God says that there was a certain correspondence remaining at that time. The prayer of the pharaohs was that their kings would be recognized by the Redeemer like the line of the semitic priesthood of the Hebrews. Thus the meeting of the pharaoh with Joseph's father Jacob or Israel was of historic importance.
Gavin Cox
Hi Daniel, you ask "Could it then be that the Egyptian attachment to the cat is based upon the legendary promise of a Redeemer to crush the serpent's head?" Probably not, as the cat was worshipped in several forms from the first Dynasty onwards that are not connected to Atum, or Creation in any discernable way. Interestingly the Egyptian for cat is pronounced "miw" which is onomatopoeic, i.e., it sounds like what it describes—a cat's meow. There are several cat deities known to Egyptology, the first recognized cat-headed deity in ancient Egypt is Mafdet, who was worshipped as far back as the the First Dynasty and was regarded as the protector of the pharaoh's chambers against evils like snakes and scorpions. The cat-god Bastet is known from the Second Dynasty, and by the 5th Dynasty a wall painting in the Saqqara burial grounds shows a cat in the king's household, demonstrating by this time cat's had become domesticated. Other feline deities included Sekhmet and Mut. And of course we are all familiar with the feline-bodied Sphinx, the oldest and largest being the one near Khufu's Great Pyramid at Giza, of the 5th Dynasty. Despite being revered, cats were also sacrificed in vast numbers, as chambers full of cat mummies have been discovered from the 12th Dynasty, but particularly in the later Ptolemaic period where they were buried in vast numbers. The depiction of Atum as a tomcat killing the snake at the Ished Tree in my article is drawing from familiar imagery already well established independently of Atum. This image comes from a wall painting, c.1164–1157 BC, and is also known from the Egyptian Book of the Dead which was developed from the Second Intermediate Period, around 1700 BC onwards. However, the name of Atum is known much earlier from the 4-6th Dynasty Pyramid Texts, where he springs from the Primeval Mound to create his own children. The Ished Tree and the Apophis snake all can be found from the Pyramid Texts also, demonstrating their antiquity.
Eddie C.
Another fascinating piece of evidence for the flood. While there are major differences in the accounts, it is clear that ancient people, hundreds of years after Noah and even thousands of years, were very aware of the flood. Things haven't changed all that much in the past 4000 years. Even today its hard to get a balanced and true account of events that happened weeks ago and events that happened decades and centuries ago have been revised to fit into social worldviews so that one group of people see it completely differently than others. It's not hard to imagine how kings and rulers would have used the flood story to enhance their own reputations and credentials to be leaders and to convince people to worship their own brand of deities. Today, the flood account is completely denied by the secular world (and even a lot of the Christian world), but for most of the history of the earth the flood was a well established historical event that the majority of cultures recognized. I guess Satan realized somewhere along the way that the Bible's account was far and away the most believable and so he sowed the idea that the flood never happened at all to discredit the Word of God.
Daniel J.
Figure 2 is interesting because Ra-Atum is stepping on the head of a serpent under the Ished Tree, which is reminiscent of God promising that the head of the serpent will be crushed at the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in Genesis 3:15. I wonder if this image is part of a warped version of the Garden of Eden story.
Gavin Cox
Hi Daniel,
Thanks for your comment, yes you are right to see a parallel with the Genesis account where the serpent's head is promised to be crushed. This was of course achieved by the Last Adam, Jesus Christ. So it could be that Ham and his descendants had some idea that the serpent's head would be crushed, or they just made their version, Atum, victorious. Like I said in my article "Many of these aspects are evocative of the Fall narrative in Genesis 3, although the Egyptian telling is somewhat on its head when we consider Adam was vanquished by the serpent at the Tree of Knowledge. The Gospel promise is that the Last Adam would be the One to crush the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15 cf. Romans 16:20; 1 Corinthians 15:25)."

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