Month 11:11, Week 2:3 (Shleshi/Bikkurim), Year 5935:298 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Friday 3 February 2012
The Spirits of Egypt
II. The Cosmic and Lesser Gods
Continued from Part 1
For many, Egypt has a mystical allure - grandiose, colourful, mysterious and their gods suprisingly very, very human. I have always been fascinated by it, perhaps aided by the fact that I visited the country as a boy, climbed one of the pyramids of Gizeh (with a reluctant mother in tow), visited the Sphinx, rode a camel (see below) and toured the museums and mosques. My son Joshua had a spontaneous interest in ancient Egypt too as a boy growing up.
"Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to Yahweh, and He will have mercy on him; and to our Elohim (God), for He will abundantly pardon" (Isa.55:7, NKJV).
My very first photo album is full of pictures and postcards from that visit (see below). I don't have a whole library of memories from that period of time in my life, even though we travelled around the world, but I do remember the sights and sounds vividly - the merchants plying their wares in small boats alongside our ship in Port Saïd and mother buying me a leather camel stool when it was hauled up on a rope in a basket for us to inspect. I also remember (less affectionately) being offered a sheep's eye at dinner which, though an honour given to guests in modern Egypt, did not titillate my taste buds.
To be honest, I am still awed by it all - the art and architechure in particular. But there's more, and it runs in the genes, especially in the genes of the descendants of Joseph - the Ephraimites and Manassehites. There are spiritual ties, and not necessarily good ones
Postcards in my Photo Album from the Tut-Ankh-Amun Exhibition, Cairo
Ancient Egypt was, like all cultures, very religious. But what a complete contrast to Hebrew worship in particular, and to Semitic worship in general.
Egyptian religion was never a unitary whole. There were always local gods up and down the land, among whom were Ptah (artificer-god of Memphis), Thoth (god of learning and the moon at Hermopolis), Amun (the 'hidden' god of Thebes) who overshadowed Mentu (the war-god), Hathor (goddess of joy at Dendera), and many, many more. There were cosmic gods, foremost which was Ré or Atum (the sub-god) whose daughter Ma'et personified Truth, Justice, Right and the Cosmic Order; then Nût (the sky-goddess) and Shu, Geb and Nu (gods of the air, earth and primordial waters, respectively). The nearest thing to a truly national religion was the cult of Osiris and his cycle (with his wife, Isis, and son Horus), an Egyptian trinity mimicking on a very human level the Hebrew one.
The story of Osiris had great human appeal: the good king murdered by his wicked brother Seth, becoming ruler of the realm of the dead and triumphing in the person of his posthumous son and avenger Horus, who, with the support of his mother Isis, gained his father's kingship on earth. The Egyptian could identify himself with Osiris the revivified in his kingdom of the hereafter; Osiris' other aspect, as a god of vegatation, linking with the annual rise of the Nile and consequent rebirth of life, combined powerfully with his funery aspect in Egyptian aspirations.
The prominence of various gods varied with political changes. A kind of monotheism appeared during Akhenaten's reign, but in reality the other gods were still recognised, however much proscribed. Pharaoh Akhenaten worshipped the sun-god manifest in the solar disk, whose rays gave life to all creatures. The king worshipped Aten, and the Egyptians the king, giving Atenism a personal focus. There was, however, no ethical quality in Atenism, as proven by Akhenaten 'marrying' his own daughter. Though liberals have attempted to demonstrate that Hebrew monotheism was born out of Atenism, there really is no resemblance whatsoever.
The Elohim (God) or the unsophisticated Hebrew cattlemen completely demolished the myth of the non-existant Egyptian pantheon in the Ten Plagues. The whole lie was brutally exposed by the real thing because lies are impotent before Yahweh
This anthropomorphism of the cult of the 'great' Egyptian gods is no better illustrated than in the singular pattern of their being treated as though they were earthly kings. He was awakened from sleep each morning with a hymn, his idol-image washed and dressed, and breakfasted (the morning offering), did a morning's business, and had midday and evening meals (corresponding offerings) before retiring for the night. The contrast could hardly be greater between the ever-vigilent Elohim (God) of Israel with His didactic sacrificial system, symbolising the need and means of atonement to deal with human sin, and of peace-offerings in fellowship at tabernacle or temple, and those earthly Egyptian deities of nature.
Modern day Anglo-Saxon and European culture is pretty much global today, with minor local variations. The gods are everywhere in evidence. Political idols, celebrities of sport, music and screen are unbiquitous. Ancient Egypt had millions of gods, and so do contemporary non-believers, with millions now believing that each human being is his or her own god or goddess. Moderns scorn the ancients for their worship of statues but in reality they are no different from them - they are every bit as idolatrous. The world has its 'cosmic gods' that include politicians and scientists, though their images are becoming badly tarnished and new gods are replacing them, however fleeting their fame may be. Obama is the latest modern charismatic 'pharaoh' seeking godlike status and was initially viewed as a messianic figure but as his true agenda has been unmasked has become an object of loathing and hatred. The ancient gods and pharaohs survived far longer than ours. Like everything else, ours are mass-produced and discarded almost as soon as they have been installed.
Some believers fall for the cosmic gods like Obama but new ones are being paraded when the older ones fail. Even the good leaders (like Ron Paul) are 'deified' by those who do not want to give their worship to Yahweh-Elohim but trust in the arm-of-flesh. Replacement Obama's - lots of them - are waiting in the wings. But if the idolatrous are not attracted by the cosmic gods, there are plenty of lesser ones - the celebrities - sportspeople and musicians in particular.
The world is full of millions upon millions of lesser 'gods' who are steered by demonic powers who, unknown to the idolaters, are the ones being really worshipped - like the Egyptian goddess Heqet, better known from her Greek name Hecate. Whenever you look up to these humanist icons of society you are committing idolatry and worshipping the same gods of the ancient Egyptians. If you are a believer, you must make teshuvah (repentance) because Yahweh will not share worship with anyone or anything else! Do you need proof of His worthiness to receive exclusive worship? Just see what He did to the Egyptian gods! And a time is coming, and is not far off, when He will do the same to the technological gods of the modern age too, making the miracles of that time seem small by comparison. However, you do not want to be a part of the modern Pharaoh's 'army' of worshippers whose ancient counterparts lie at the bottom of Yam Suf (the Red Sea).
Forsake the idolatrous music of this world too for it is steered by forces most believers are entirely ignorant of. Forsake the idolatrous movies with their alternative (usually demonic) realities, and their Hollywood stars, most of whome have sold their souls to the devil. Forsake sports idols too, especially with the Pagan Olympics coming around once more. These are all a part of the spiritual Egyptian culture of this world and its offshoots - do you really believe for one moment that they will be seen or heard in the New Jerusalem? This kind of pollution does not exist in heaven! Forsake it - allow Yahweh to purge you of it because a soul dirtied by it is not going to become a part of the Bride of Messiah! This is all apart of your personal Exodus out of Egypt to the heavenly Promised Land.
Continued in Part 3