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Author Topic: THE GREAT ATEN  (Read 12222 times)
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Posts: 41646

« Reply #45 on: February 26, 2008, 12:49:45 pm »

In the so-called Egyptian Captivity which the Bible claims lasted several centuries, Hebrews
did, in fact, live in Egypt, enslaved by powerful New Kingdom pharaohs until the Exodus in
which Moses led them to freedom in the Holy Lands.

If that really happened, they must have been in Egypt when Akhenaten had his brief day in
the blazing sun. But because a majority of scholars downplay the historicity of the Exodus—

there is certainly no corroborating evidence massive numbers of Hebrews fled Egypt at any

point in ancient history

—again this seems unlikely. Still, it doesn't take huge crowds of Hebrews in Egypt to introduce
the idea of monotheism into Israelite thinking. One "Joseph" is certainly enough.

So, it's possible to weave together from the historical data a scenario in which the idea of mono-
theism threaded its way somehow out of Egyptian theology and into Israelite culture. But when
one looks closely, it's not a very tightly woven tapestry, especially in light of where biblical
scripture says the Hebrews were in Egypt.

The city of Goshen in which the Bible says they lived as captives is probably synonymous with
the Egyptian settlement called Pi-Ramesse ("City of Ramses") in the delta. If so, it's many miles
from Akhetaten, and there's very little evidence to be found in Egyptian art or history that
Akhenaten's revolutionary theology filtered that far north.

Nor is it likely it would have fared well in this part of Egypt, a stronghold of Ramses' family. The Ramessids were staunchly opposed to atenistic thinking and later attempted to eradicate all
traces it had ever existed. So, how is it even possible Ramses' construction slaves heard about
a far-off, out-of-date religious tradition strongly proscribed by their tyrannical overseers?

All in all, the evidence seems to weigh heavily against the argument that the Hebrews caught
the monotheism bug from contact with the Aten, or even just the simple conception there's
only one god.

With no obvious channels of communication on either side, it's improbable Akhenaten's revo-
lution could in any way have influenced or even inspired Hebrew thought.

Furthermore, how many of the world's great inventions have cropped up independently in diffe-
rent places? Writing and literature, for instance, arose in both the West and the East with no
apparent connection between them, as did agriculture, drama and ship-building.
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