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The Dawn of Monotheism Revisited

Our look at the dawn of monotheism sheds light on some little known, yet hard facts which, for the curious, give rise to such seemingly heretic questions as:

-     And if the Genesis, essentially, were historical, with Eden a recognizable site?
-     And if the "Children of Israel [Jacob]", in reality, were Egyptians by descent?
-     Could Abraham/Ibrahim be identical with Zarathushtra/Zoroaster?
-     What difference between Jacob, Akhenaton, Moses, Aaron, Salomon, Oedipus?
-     Is Horemheb, the Pharaoh, hiding behind the apparent composite "Joseph"?

Not affiliated with any religion, sect or related organization, politically neutral and mandated by no one except our individual conscience, CORUM thus continues its 30 year ivory tower work.  It does so in the hope of re-discovering and strengthening some of our common roots like *S*L*M*  - as its contribution to help resolve some problems which have marked the out-going century and which have turned the Middle East into a permanent powder keg (on the current debate over Jerusalem, see our note at:  Of course, we have no intention to add to the tensions there and we do not want to hurt anybody's feelings.  Yet, whoever might be upset by statements of fact, ideas and questions running either against received wisdom or the party line may want to avoid this theme.  However, if you, dear visitor, are curious, please click on any of the underlined terms on these pages, e.g. questions, Hymn to Aton.  Here - i.e. at - you are now on the full text and you can brows, down-load or print this latest version monotheism paper as you please.


a Netquery* evolved by CORUM, Geneva (1)
(30 April 1997, rev. 4: 19 August 2000)

Editor's note:

An extraordinary introduction

Please relax, get yourselves comfortable and be prepared for a few shocks. I'm going to need your support, your sympathy, as I struggle through this question tonight. It's brand new research, it's work in progress, it's a very fluid idea that I'm developing at the moment and it's by no means complete and it may never get completed if it all goes wrong in the end.

I feel as if I'd be walking on eggshells to give this presentation to this audience in particular, because we are going to talk about Genesis 1-11. This presents big problems, bigger than that of the Sumerians and perhaps of any other problem in history. The other day, when we looked at the later books of the Genesis - through to Kings so to speak - we started in my own discipline, Egyptology. We looked at anomalies, archeological anomalies, which then led to the development of a theory. That theory then had implications for the Old Testament and other fields of study which I didn't mention, such as Greek history. And then we moved from there to study, or make a comparison, to see if we could find a synthesis of what we can learn from archeology on the one side and on the other from the narrative in these Old Testament books of the Bible. Now, we are going to start from a different angle this time, we are going to start with a theory - a very dangerous thing to do. Yet, I think it's legitimate to start from there.

In a way and to a certain level of satisfaction, I've demonstrated the probability that parts of the Old Testament are historical. Assuming that, the question - admittedly a big question - is: does that mean we can, e.g., go back to early Genesis with the same methodology, comparative methodology between archeology and the Old Testament narrative (let's not call it history, let's call it the traditional narrative)? So that's a big question that emerged when I completed book one. Foolishly, I suggested to my publisher that this question be pursued further and before I realised it he caught me in my own trap, saying "yes, please". So now I got what I deserve and find myself obliged to write this horrible book on this vast and hardly fathomable subject (audience laughs).

Now why the "followers of Horus", why the Genesis of civilisation and the followers of Horus. I'm going to try and lead you on an epic saga, starting from the beginning in the beginning and going through to the table of nations. And I'm going to try and show you a link between ancient Egypt, it's foundation of the Pharaonic civilisation from out of Genesis. But then, for the implications of that, we have to look at the Egyptian religion, primeval religion, to see whether we find anything of Genesis reflected in that religion.

As I warned you, it's a very complicated subject. Moreover, it is out of my field. And here I am such a fool to step out of my field and try this. It involves learning some Sumerian and Acadian. And it involves understanding the development of language, primitive language especially and primitive script. The reason for this is that I'm also going to try and show you extra-biblical material from Mesopotamia. In this way, some of the personalities of the Genesis seem to be confirmed as they come to light in other literature. And as I said last time: then there is the name game, and the name game is one of those very dangerous games that we play, i.e. making words fit to our expectations. After that you may draw your own conclusions. To be sure, these and further arguments may or may not - yet - make a dent. Therefore, only time will tell whether the debate thus opened will contribute to getting us out of the present multi-facetted gridlock and where all this will lead us eventually. Whether or not the arguments thus brought forward will hold the road depends essentially on their quality and consistency; supported by a few slides, I will venture today to offer a few comparisons as food for thought. Beyond that, each of you is also called upon to discover for himself or herself what challenges and opportunities all this may entail - for both you and others.

(slide 1) My first slide relates to a theme from the Genesis, namely to the appearance of man and woman on Earth. Now this isn't a book cover by any means but it does explain something about what we are going to do. This time we are going to start at the beginning. In the last lecture we were working from the known towards the unknown, fixing our chronology absolutely to the present. Now we are going to do exactly what I said we shouldn't do, namely we are going to go and get an arbitrary date and we are going to work forward in time and not backward. But it doesn't matter in this case because we are dealing with relative chronology here and not absolute chronology. It's the time between civilisations, the relationship in time based on archeological evidence; it isn't the imperative of the fixed date, for a fixed date is not relevent to this discussion. And it is the prickle of the first volume. The followers of Horus will become evident with Part Two of the talk when I'll take you out of Mesopotamia towards the Nile valley.

(slide 2) This picture - and indeed this story - relates to the Sumerian people. You probably wouldn't recognise that sort of face from the other images we have about the ancient world. Yet, this is a Sumerian, and I'm going to try and explain to you why Sumerians do not appear in the Bible as a nation.

(slide 3) This picture is about a people that you're more familiar with. However, we're not going to deal with the native, the indigenous population of Egypt but with the Pharaonic population, the elite of Egypt.

(slide 4) This is about our two ancestors. Look at that very carefully! What do you see? You see a tree. On the left over here, you see a woman on a throne. On the right, you see a man with horns on his hat (which indicates deity in Sumerian mythology). And you see a snake behind the woman. It's interesting also to notice that there are seven branches on this tree and that it has fruits dangling from it. Mind you, this isn't a made-up image; it isn't somebody's fictional idea of Adam and Eve. This is a Sumerian cylinder seal impression. It's a genuine artifact from the ancient Near East. It's extra-biblical. And if you want to see it with your own eyes, you'll find it in the British Museum.

(slide 5) And this is our canvas for the first part of the talk. It is in this area we're going to try and paint a history of Genesis and the history of the development of civilisation. In particular we are going to concentrate on the two famous rivers, Tigris and Euphrates and the sources of those two rivers in this mountainous region which the classical writers called Armenia. In our time, Armenia moved slightly northward. This is also the region we call today Azerbaijan. And this, of course, is also the region called Western Iran or Iranian Azerbaijan - it has all those names. I'm going to take you into this region here to have a closer look at it. I think that there are some interesting things we will find.

(slide 6) It's a remarkable landscape. It's a landscape of high mountains, deep valleys, barren hills and lush valleys as well. You have to remember that in the ancient world this would have been covered mostly with forests. By now it has mostly been denuded by pasturalism and agriculture. In that respect, over the years it grew to look a bit like Israel today. There were once cedar forests and these are the forests that you read about in the epic literature of the Sumerians, e.g. in the Gilgamesh epics. These are the cedar forests of the mountains. And these mountains play a crucial role in the mythology and religion of Sumer.

(slide 7) Today, the people of these mountains are called the Kurds. When we get to the linguistic part of this exercise you'll recognise in the word Kurd or Kurdu the word Cauldu. Now these Cauldu appear to be the Chaldeans of the Bible. You can get interchangeability between "L" and "R" and the Sumerian "U" and the Semitic "A", so that you get this interchange of Cauldu with Kurd.

(slide 8) As you know, today this is a bit of a no-go area. But with better insights into their own real roots, I'd like to think these people and their mostly estranged brethren living downstream have a chance to rediscover their common origins and bonds so that things may quiet down there, too someday in the not too distant future.

Now these people who came down from those mountains had their own, their Sumerian gods who dwelt in and lived atop mountains. The Sumarian gods did not live in the valley of Suma. They were brought down from the mountains. And that is why the Sumerians built zigurats, i.e. towers to recreate the mountain abode of the gods in the lowlands. That is the fonction of the zigurats.

(slide 9) This is a crucial passage we are going to study first of all. It's going to lead us to the physical location of the place called Eden. A secular historian would call this fiction, an Alice in Wonderland, not a real place. However, it isn't forbidden to look at the facts with a critical mind. Thus the question: and if it were a real place? Look at the matter-of-fact-way it is described in the Biblel! There is no mythology here; it is a straightforward description of the place where it is located. The way it is located is via the sources of four clearly defined rivers, the rivers of Eden which are said to have their headwaters in Eden.

Now I'm sure you're all familiar with this particular biblical passage. Two of the rivers are well known to us; I'll draw those out on the board in a minute and I'll fit in the other two rivers. And once we'll have all four, will we not be entitled to recognize the location of Eden?

Notice also the characteristics of two of those four rivers, the unknown ones - at the moment unknown anyway - the Gihon and the Pishon. Those two run through particular countries and the writer is telling us a bit more about those two rivers because he doesn't expect us to know them as well as the two main rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris. Paraf is Euphrates in the Bible. Hiddekel, that is the Deglat of Sumer which is the Tigris in Greek. So we have Tigris and Euphrates to begin with. Our biblical writer helps us a bit further when he says that the Tigris flows to the east of Assyria [Asshur] which is still there today in the city of Assur in Northern Iraq. The Paraf, i.e. the Euphrates with its Western and its Eastern headwaters, is so well known he doesn't even have to describe where that is.

Now I'm going to be a little bit of a scribe. I'm going to draw you a map of Eden. Now try to envision this in the perspective of an ancient mind. They try to describe, they don't draw maps. So let's draw a map for them the way they think. Let's place at the centre of the universe the Land of Eden. We will represent that by a circle. Now there are said to be four rivers which have their sources in Eden. So let's do this thing we heard of today about the four corners of the world, and let's draw four corners around Eden. So the centre is there which is divided into four corners and neatly boxed in for now. Let's now imagine that we are describing one river in each corner. The source of each river in each of these corners.

Let's draw the known rivers in first, Paraf - i.e. Euphrates - we can trace that to its source. It's source is up here in this corner, South of Arate, North of Lake Van, and it swings round in a great arc into the Mesopotamia Valley and works its way down to the Gulf. The second river we also know: it's the Tigris. So let's go upstream on this one and let's start where it joins the Euphrates. It flows through Mesopotamia and has three sources in this region over here, i.e. the Lesser Zap, the Greater Zap and one other. We now have two of our four rivers in place. This then is no longer a fictional map, for we've got two rivers on it. They are real places, so we can now put some features onto this map. One of the most important features to put onto it is the Caspian Sea. Another one is the Black Sea over here.

So, two more rivers. According to the Old Testament, the Pishon winds its way around the land of Havilah which is said to be rich in gold and other material, while the Gihon is flowing into the Land of Cush. Now that Land of Cush is what's misled those in search of Eden for the last 200 years. Because it is not the African Cush, what we call today Sudan. And the reason for that will become apparent in Part Two.

The first of these two - still unidentified - rivers is seen to flow into the Caspian Sea over here and out round in this direction. It also has streams that flow into this quarter. The modern name of this river is Aras (in Greek: Araxis). But if you check on this sort of things, the thing you do is to go back to local topper names from different periods and you try to find out what the names where as well in ancient times. And if you go back to the Islamic invasion of this region, the Islamic historians called this river something quite different. They called it the Gaihun. And in fact in older commentaries on the Bible, like last century ones, you'll see it called the Gaihun Aras or the Gaihon Araxis which, of course, is the biblical Gihon (notwithstanding the fact that near Jerusalem there is also a river called Gihon which, incidently, may also have had another name in ancient time). So we've got three rivers out of four.

The fourth river is also very important; it empties into the southern end of the Caspian Sea and flows through this quarter, winding its way through the land. The modern name of this is the Uwzon or Uizon. Now that doesn't sound like Pishon until you realise that there is a linguistic problem which is that the letter "U" can become the letter "P". I'll give you an example, there is a site down here in the Zagros Mountains which is called Pishdeli today. When they made archeological excavations there, they found tablets naming the place as Uishdeli, i.e. transfer from "U" to "P" and "P" to "U". So there is extra-biblical archeological support for substituting the Uizon's "U" with a "P", with the result that you come reasonably close to the biblical Pishon.

So we have all four rivers located and they point to these central section. Now where is that? Let's put two lakes on that now. Let's put Lake Van and lets put in Lake Urmia. And let's put that great mountain range which separates Eden from Suma, i.e. the Zagros Mountains moving down in a great chain, a great barrier. It separates paradise from the mundane.

Now I want to go slightly in on this and draw you a little bit closer to that circle (you'll see this for real later when you'll follow me on my next trip there and I'm going to take you through to the garden of Eden - enjoy the trip!). Lake Urmia is in the centre of Eden. It's a large lake, it's got a volcanic island like that and it's a dead lake. It's a dead lake for with its high salt content it supports no life in it. We'll come back to that later when we will look at the Gilgamesh epics.

What reportedly was East of Eden? The garden. And what lies to the East of Urmia? Again the garden! There is a mountain range going this way, which is very schematic, there is a huge volcano here called Mount Sahand, a natural cone, and another range of mountains going in this direction. And acrosss this way there is a mountain range like that. And right in the middle of this is a lush valley. A river flows through this valley and empties into this lifeless Lake Urmia. At its mouth there is a large swamp and salty estuary. And then beyond that estuary here is a very beautiful section of the river valley which today is full of orchards, every kind of trees. The waters of this river flow from the mountains and one source in particular flows down from the volcano Mount Sahand.

And where is this in modern terminology? Well, this is the valley of Tabriz. And Tabriz is located at the heart of this lush valley. Tabriz is at the end of the silk road from China, so it is very important in different parts of history. It's a bit of a dump now, sadly, but never mind - Eden will not always remain Eden. Now this river has a Persian name. The Persian name of the river is Medan. And you might have heard that word before, Medan-el-sha, which in Persian means the Royal Garden of the King, or the public square as it's become today. The river is named the Garden, and where does that tradition come from?

Over here there is a high mountain, this is not a volcano but it is a very high peak. And there is a pass which leads from Tabriz over the mountain range to the North here into the valley of the Gihon. That mountain today is called Cushedag, the Mountain of Cush. The Gihon flows to the Land of Cush. Descend the valley, the road rises up, out of the valley and goes through a pass and as it drops down the other side it goes to the town of Ardabil where all the earth quakes are. I went out there and I discovered that all over this region there are villages called Nod. In fact they are called Nod-i (belonging to Nod), like pakistani (belonging to Pakistan), inglesi (belonging to England): "i" of a belonging. The villages are all called of Nod.

This is the Land of Nod of the Bible where Cain is exiled from the garden. So even today, the topper names of this region still reflect the biblical story. It's being there for thousands of years and in the recent millennia people seem to have forgotten. At any rate, according to the written record, nobody seems to have noticed the striking correlations. And those who may have added one and one may have preferred to keep their insights for themselves. But it's also another illustration of the forest you don't see for reason of all the trees in front of you.

Be that as it may, I'm going to take you on a reverse journey now. I'm going to take you not out of Eden into the land of Shinar, but I'm going to take you back to Eden from Shinar. That's the way to go, right? And I'm going to take you in the footsteps of one particular individual whom you may not be familiar with. It's the king of Uruk with the name of Nmeaka who was building a rook in the very earliest periods of history. He's one of Suma's first great builders. He decided that he's going to take his goddess Enana from the mountain kingdom of Arata, bring her down physically and build a new temple for her in Suma. This then became the first zigurat temple, the Tower of Babel, dedicated to Enana. In doing so he had to negotiate with a brother king who was the Lord of Arata. And to do that he sent an emissary back and forth, across the mountains with messages such as: "I want to take the god, please supply me with precious metals, stones etc. for the new temple".

The Lord of Arata will say "please get lost, I'm not sendind you anything". Back came the emissary, Nmeaka will implore his brother again and his emissary will be back and forth like this. We're going to follow in the footsteps of that man, going to Arata. And what does Arata sound like to you? Arata, the Assyrian Uratu, it's the same place, and Arata is closely associated with the early stories of Genesis. Ararat is actually part of Eden I should say.

(slide 10) Here is the physical representation of that drawing I did. Here are the two main rivers, Paraf (Euphrates), Hiddekel (Tigris). Their sources are in this region here, whereas the Gihon (Araxis or Aras) and the Uizon (Pishon) are both flowing to the East into this region here which is the Garden of Eden with the Garden River flowing through it.

(slide 11) Now this journey of ours begins in a very famous city closely associated with Daniel. It's the city of Suza, and I set off from there a couple of months ago with my wife and a couple of guides. We left from the tomb of Daniel, we went to see Daniel's tomb and then we set off northwards along the main highway, along the plain and then into an opening in the mountains and along the Sayed Mora Valley over the first range and you go into a series of dips, crossing the range usually through narrow gorges. Now the extra-biblical text tells us that there were seven gates into Eden. And an ancient gate is in fact a mountain pass, that is what it means, so we in fact had to travel through seven passes to get to Eden. There were also seven passes into Arata. The Assyrian army also crossed through seven passes to go to Uratu. These places seem to be all the same place. We are then going to head into the Kermensha Valley which is another interesting sight.

(slide 12) This is a typical biblical gate, if you like. It's a mountain pass through the horizontal ridges that you have to cut across to get North.

(slide 13) The ancient road which Nmeaka's emissaries travelled on is still there today. It is amazing how archeology can still provide us with the evidence on the ground even on the surface like this. The ancient raod leading to the mountains streches on. It actually goes through another pass on to the next mountain range North to the land of Arata.

(slide 14) Here we're now on the main road which follows the regional path, coming into the Kermensha Valley. For historians and linguists this is a very famous location with the Baihiston inscriptions of Rias I. This is where Rolinson, the British archeologist, suspended himself down a cliff and copied these trilingual text in old Persian, Elamite and Aacadian until he was able to decipher Acadian for the very first time and opened up this huge archive of material for us. And that led to the deciphering of Sumerian from there.

Baihiston, in Greek is called Bakistanos, which means mountain of the god. And in fact it has a tremendous religious significance to many different nations. Also, Alexander passed this way once. But this mountain has some very important archeological significance, too because it is in this valley that the first neolithic settlements produced pottery. And who says pottery is not only talking of water but also of wine and wine- making on which recent research has brought us new insights as to its close-by origins. Moreover, pottery is the key to tracing those people out of the mountains into the plain - you simply follow that broken pottery.

(slide 15) This is the valley, you can see the impression one would get if you were a neolithic person living in an environment like that: you know where the gods live, no problems.

(slide 16) As you travel further North traversing that massive, when things become more rugged and the air gets thinner, you still see ancient rest houses along the route. This route has been used for thousands of years leading up North and you cross the bright mountains referred to in Sumerian literature.

(slide 17) On the way, you might arrive at a Zoroastrian site, like this. This is Takhte Suleiman, the throne of Salomon. This seems to be just tradition. At least I know of no evidence to link this with King Salomon - but then again, I haven't really looked for any either! But this gives you an idea of something I could show you later because I didn't get to climb to the top of the real mountain I wanted to show you. But in fact what they say is a volcanic chimney is welled up with water from deep beneath the earth and channels flow out as the source for two of the great rivers in this region, one of them being the Pishon of the Bible, which flows through the land of Havilah. This is in fact the land of Havilah we're in now, rich in gold. And indeed, there is excellent ancient evidence for gold deposits in this region.

Now this idea of an underground source welling up out of a volcanic chimney is the concept which we have to get to grips with if we are going to understand our Part Two. This concept has a name, abzu, which is a Sumerian word from which we get the word abyss which the Oxford dictionary defines as a "hole so deep as to appear bottomless; hell or the lower world". The abyiss is actually water coming from deep inside the earth. In contrast to the salt water of the sea, this is fresh water and as such it is life-giving water. It's seen as the source of life. In Sumerian literature the god of this life is called Enki, Lord of the Earth. The Acadians gave him a different name. As you know, the Acadians are part of the Semitic family and therefore are kins of the Hebrews. The Acadians called him Iya, Ya, for short. Ya, of course, could be considered to be the hypocristic form of Yaweh. But I'm not saying it is so, it's merely a suggestion.

(slide 18) As I said, that little tiny break in the volcanic lava of the well flows down to become the streams of Havilah and then become the Pishon itself flowing into the Caspian Sea.

(slide 19) Eventually, the road leads into a plain to the south of Lake Urmia and this plain here is the land of Arata, the destination of Nmeaka's emissary. The river Arata flows through this region. Now I want you to realise that Mount Ararat has nothing whatsoever to do with Ararat or Uritu or Arata. It's a Christian mountain; it's an invention of later Christianity. It's not the Mountains of Ararat described in the Bible. They are the mountains which we just crossed through: Uratu, Arata known from the extra-biblical texts. It's a mis-location in a sense. Those people who go hunting for the arch in Mount Ararat are mislocating themselves. If you want to find the arch you look somewhere else. Beyond Arata the road passes by the lake, by the great volcano Sahand and into the Valley of Eden with it's swampy marshlands, it's volcanic islands and also the great mountain. And here is the pass leading over to the Land of Nod and the pass leading past the Mountain of Cush into the Land of Cush through which the Gihon flows.

(slide 20) The Urmia is a very impressive lake. It's very large, it's surounded by high mountains, it has no exits and the water disappears. How would a Sumerian or a biblical mind understand that? The rivers flow into it and they don't have any outlets!

(slide 21) Looking down on the valley is this splendid Sahand, the Mount Sahand, the volcano. It has an ancient name which is still preserved in the local texts: it's called the mountain of the Chales. The reason it is called that is because it, too has a fresh water abzu which flows down and becomes a tributary of the Garden of Eden river. It is the source of life in a sense. In one sense at least.

(slide 22) And this is Eden! There are the modern orchards of the place. Remember that this is a heavily industrialised zone now. It has lost most of its character, but you still find them using the terraces of the valley for orchards of every sort. But in prehistory, this would have been a lush valley with lots of trees of all sorts. And as you go up the slope, you still find the bigger trees, the cedars and the oaks. Down the valley are the fruit trees.

(slide 23) And then this is what it looks like today. This is Tabriz. And unfortunately it is smack right on top of the garden. So the chances of excavating that and finding something are pretty remote.

(slide 24) The river of Eden is still there. It doesn't look very nice today, but never mind. An ancient Zazenian bridge over it is still there.

(slide 25) And as we travel North over the Mountain of Cush, we end up in the Land of Cush.

(slide 26) Which is - appropriately on the day I went there - pretty barren and bleak. Outside the garden, all is not well.

(slide 27) We were there at that point. This is Nokdi or Nodi, one of the villages with its name. This is called Upper Nodi and this is called Lower Nodi even today. We went to the mapping centre of the Iranian Government for this governorate and we actually looked at these maps. And there they were: Upper Nodi and Lower Nodi.

(slide 28) We are going to go round now back into Eden, into the Garden, retracing Cain's footsteps. This is the route of exile into the Land of Nod. We're going to go back and I just want to take you towards the top of this mountain.

(slide 29) Now I don't know what to make of this. I don't know how to tie this to the story and I really don't know what to do with it at all. But if you go up this mountain, you'are confronted with something quiet extraordinary. Not only has it got this abzu at the very top of the mountain, but just beneath the summit there is something quiet extraordinary.

(slide 30) There is a village of cave-dwellers actually living above the snow line. They live without any stock - i.e. no live stock, no agriculture, etc. - so except for water, everything they need for their living, they have to carry it from the lowlands up to their mountain perk. And yet they persist to live there.

(slide 31) Actually, they live in dwellings they built into this very strange conical rock formations. There's got to be a big something which draws them to that place. I, for one, don't - yet - know what it is.



In the Koran,Moses' return from the Sinai is related as follows (Sura VII, 104-24):

"Moses said: 'O Pharaoh! I am an apostle from the Lord of the Worlds,
one for whom it is right to say nothing but truth about Allah.
Now have I come unto you (people), from Your Lord with a clear (Sign)
so let the Children of Israel depart along with me.'
(Pharaoh) said: 'If indeed thou have come with a Sign, show it forth, if you tellest the truth.'
Then (Moses) threw his rod, and behold!, it was a serpent, plain (for all to see)!
And he drew out his hand and behold! it was white to all beholders!
Said the Chiefs of the people to Pharaoh:
'This is indeed a sorcerer well-versed. His plan is to get you out of your land.'
'Then what is it ye counsel?' They said: 'Keep him and his brother in suspense (for a while)
and send to the cities men to collect and bring up to thee all (our) sorcerers well-versed.'
So there came the sorcerers to Pharaoh.
They said: 'Of course we shall have a (suitable) reward if we win!'
He said: 'Yea (and more), for ye shall in that case be (raised to posts) nearest (to my person).'
They said: 'O Moses wilt thou throw (first), or shall we have the (first) throw?'
Said Moses: 'Throw ye (first).' So when they threw, they bewitched the eyes of the people,
and struck terror into them, for they showed a great (feat of) magic.
He put it into Moses' mind by inspiration: 'Throw (now) thy rod.'
And behold! it swallowed up straightaway all the falsehoods which they faked.
Thus truth was confirmed, and all that they did was made of no effect.
So the (great ones) were vanquished there and then, and were made to look small.
But the sorcerers fell down prostrate in adoration, saying: 'We believe in the Lord of the Worlds,
the Lord of Moses and Aaron.'
Said Pharaoh: 'Believe ye in Him before I give you permission?
Surely this is a trick which ye have planned in the City to drive out its people,
but soon shall ye know (the consequences).
Be sure I will cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides,
and I will cause you all to die on the cross."

The Bible, by comparison, renders the same episode as follows (Exodus, 7:10-13):

"And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the Lord had commanded:
and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent.
Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt,
they also did in like manner with their enchantments.
For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents:
but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods.
And he hardened Pharaoh's heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said."

*          *          *

§1     In 1961, the Egyptologist Sir Alan Gardiner set the stage for a more enlightening reading of humanity's record - in as much as it relied on Egypt's history and its King List as relayed to us notably by the historian Manetho. In his book "Egypt of the Pharaohs" (p.170), he declared: "Manetho's narrative represents the last stage of a process of falsifications which started within a generation after the triumph of Amosis" over the vilified Hyksos (1575-1550 Old Chronology, henceforth OC).  In this critical analysis, Gardiner has been supported by a growing number of scholars, some thus coming up with remarkable - even if occasionally conflicting - new ideas, theories and insights (1).  One of them, the Islamic scholar and Egyptologist Ahmed Osman, in one of his latest books "Moses Pharaoh of Egypt - the Mystery of Akhenaten Resolved", thus commented our tampered records:

§2     Thus, it was time someone went beyond mere bickering over the confusing King Lists. With his book "A Test of Time", the Assyrologist and Egyptologist David Rohl has presented an archeologically and astronomically supported NewChronology (henceforth NC, with the reign of Ramses II thus placed in the 10th century BC, i.e. dated some 350 years later than traditionally recorded, and the reign of Akhenaton beginning some 3025 years ago and overlapping the ascendancy of David as the successor to King Saul).  If independently confirmed in its key elements by further research, we would find ourselves at the threshold of a new era, providing startling synchronologies of the past to which we were blinded through our own shortcomings and not necessarily by design.  Recognizing this could have vast implications for the future far beyond the bedeviled Middle Eastern craddle where our monotheistic beliefs appear to have their common roots. Osman's comments on the above-quoted koranic and biblical texts may help us to get there: §3     These conclusions could go a long way to explain not only the developments which took place following the 18thDynasty but many of the undercurrents still gripping the Middle East. Particularly the relations between the descendents of the competitors to the Throne of Pharaoh,Ramses I and Akhenaton (Moses if, for this study, we were to follow Osman'sanalysis: 2); i.e. the Egyptians on the one side and the "Children of Israel" on the other who, both, would appear to be victims of imaginative falsifiers of history. And they would clear up many mysteries, if it were not for the uncertainties which persist on what happened at the end and after Akhenaton's 17 year reign, particularly whether, how and where Akhenaton lived on. So far, no archeological or historical evidence has become known which would undisputably attest to Akhenaton's death at a certain time and place.

§4     Until recently, most scholars tended to interprete the fragmentary archeological data as pointing to a violent death of what many describe as the "heretic Pharaoh" at his regnal year 17. And they mostly associated that end of the first monotheistic reign with the subsequent resurgence of the Amon cult all over Egypt. Initially, this seemed to be supported by esoteric sources, i.e. by currently living persons who, on the basis of personal reincarnation experiences, are said to have been contemporaries of Akhenaton (3). By their very nature, these subjective accounts are just that. They cannot be relied upon without corroberating data. Nevertheless, in the absence of more conclusive information - like contributions from other disciplines - they may constitute imaginative and sometimes helpful hints and pointers for further research and more enlightened analysis.

§5     Pointing notably to the striking parallels between Akhenaton's Great Hymn to Aton (Gardiner, p.225f) and Psalm 104, scholars suspect the authors of these texts to be identical. Moreover, the Encyclopaedia Judaica (vol.12, pp. 378, 388, 389, 390, 400) recorded :

§6     Together, these and other ancient voices are seen to support the view that the name Moses - incidently like that of Salomon - may be less the real name and more one which was adopted post-festum for the biblical editors' or their taskmasters' purposes. Could it be then that the person hidden behind the name-of-convenience of Moses is in fact Akhenaton? In that event, he would have lived beyond his reign in Egypt (similarities come to mind with Jesus’ alleged post-crucification life in Kashmir (India) and elswhere and how that persistently recurring story has been treated by the powers that be, i.e. by those who consider themselves as the gardiens of the Holy Grail).

§7     Sigmund Freud concluded in his 1939 book "Moses and Monotheism" that Moses was not an Israelite but an Egyptian whose teachings derived from Akhenaton's pure monotheism (which he had imposed for apparently imperative economic reasons). That, of course, would require rewriting those stories which ante-date the "exodus of the Israelites" - if that ever happened as such and was not in fact an exodus of monotheistic Egyptians - rather than one of slaves - to what may have been their Palestinian exile (essentially brought about by deseases and power struggles between factions associated with the legitimate, and on the other side with the illegitimate contender to the Throne of Pharaoh?).

§8      One ruler of a comparatively secular Arab state, a few years ago, found it opportune to adorn the national flag with "Allahu akbar!". In the Middle Ages, a protestant prince, Henri IV, found it expedient to change his religion in order to secure papal support for his royal ambitions, saying "Paris is worth a Mass". Thus, could it be that since aeons - then no less than now - power politics, driven by economic conditions and/or personal ambitions, in most cases were and are at the roots of myths and legends and were and are driving religious choices? With this question in mind, let us now go beyond Osman's Moses=Akhenaton equation and take a closer, yet unbiased look at other key personalities of the Kings List and the Holy Scriptures.


Horemheb = 'Joseph'?

§9     "Manifestly, an Israelite author who knows the Egyptian conditions well, embellished his [Joseph] story with Egyptian colors" (Lexikon der Ägyptologie, vol.III, p.271). In the absence of prime sources outside the Bible, an Egyptian author of the post-Amarna period is, however, conceivable. Horemheb's apparent quantum jump to unprecedented power under Akhenaton is intriguing in light of his non-royal, perhaps even humble origin (5). Could it be that the Pharaoh of his time actively shared Horemheb's prediction, e.g. 7 abundant followed by 7 lean harvest years? This would have necessitated a difficult-to-impose 20% harvest levy, requiring radical interference with, if not outright confiscation of the clergy's agricultural properties (6), providing for centralized administrative and infrastructure measures (which became characteristic of both the Amarna Egypt and its northern vassal territories). Gardiner (p.243) pointed to the tomb of Sakkara (7), quoting from a "much-damaged" legend of a picture of Horemheb (Gardiner's brakets):

§10     On Papyrus D'Orbiney (British Museum 10183), the "Potiphar story" is rendered without the complementary elements of the biblical narrative of the Joseph story. Could it be that the author of the Joseph story either invented or applied an early version of the pesher technique(1), whereby the real story was intentionally hidden by being mixed up with other real or made-up stories by a creative biblical editor? Rabanne (p.70/1) asserted that General Horemheb had an affair with Pharaoh's wife Nefertiti. Could it be that this was the reason why, according to Horemheb's own admission, "the Palace fell into rage" (Gardiner, p. 242)? That Nefertiti and Akhenaton - with disastrous consequences for the rest of his reign - separated in the 12th regnal year not least because of this affair? And that Horemheb survived "the wrath of Akhenaten successfully" (ibid. p.243) only because of his indispensable functions - alas in an ambiguous, shaky and multiply indebted position which may have greatly influenced, even determined his actions and inactions at the end and beyond Akhenaton's reign?

§11     Historically,Horemheb's role in the removal of Akhenaton from power is unclear: the side-lined, formerly all-powerful Amon clergy probably needed at least Horemheb's passive support for their complot. However,Hari demonstrated in his thesis that Horemheb's reign was far from anti-Akhenaton, particularly as regards Aton worshippers and their cult monuments. Could it be that a wavering Horemheb failed the plotting Amon priests (thus also delaying his becoming Pharaoh)? That this allowed Akhenaton's daughter Meritaton to help him escape to the Sinai? And that the mercenary Habiru leader Dadua (David;Amarna Letters EA 256), as King David in an alliance with Horemheb, provided exile to Akhenaton, thus bringing stability also to Palestine?

Salomon = Akhenaton = Israel?

§12     The New Chronolgy (NC) presented in the book "A Test of Time" by David Rohl provides for the synchronism of the David/Salomon and both part of the Amarna and the post-Amarna periods (~950 BC). As Rohl points out (p.199ff), a.o. the Amarna Letters EA 245, 250, 252, 289 and 366 seem to support this. Furthermore, if the reign of David's predessessor, King Saul, were to have occurred in the post-exodus period - as suggested by the Orthodox Chronology - would the king of a monotheistic people have chosen for his youngest son the name of "Ishbaal" (Hebrew for: "Man of Baal", i.e. the god of the polytheistic Philistines)? Does this royal choice of name not tend to indicate a period of rampant polytheism, as was evident in the time prior to the exodus (which then would seem to be fully in line with Rohl's New Chronolgy)?

§13     Apparently there is no archeological or historical record of either the real name of the successor of King David or his real relationship with the latter - or is there?   While Akhenaton was alive - assuming that he did not die at the end of his reign - his dynastic successors, including Horemheb, moved into power by his default, and they all owed their legitimacy to his - temporary? - abdication.  In the cases of Akhenaton's other military leaders - who, as Pharaos Ramses I, Seti I and Ramses II, eventually established the 19th Dynasty - no such dynastic legitimacy existed and any living Amarna pretender would have stood in their way to Pharaoh's throne.  A living, and particularly a successful Akhenaton living nearby under camouflage would thus put the ascension and claims of his former military servants gravely at risk. The campaigns of Ramses I, Seti I and Ramses II, notably the Shasu wars, may be an outgrowth of this state of affairs - as may the latter Pharao's preferences for unusually over-sized monuments.  Rohl (p.149-171) demonstrated that "Salomon's" Jerusalem, too may have been conquered by Ramses II.

§14.    "Salomon," also built up and brought to prosperity Megiddo in the Jezreel valley (ibid. p.175ff: 8). Following in the steps of his predecessor - or co-regent? - he had also brought in Egyptian and Phenicien civil and war technology, know-how and methods (9). The St.Etienne Basilica in Jerusalem was built over an "Egyptian building" (10). And though the Hyksos were credited with having introduced the horse and the chariot in Egypt (11), the Encyclopaedia Judaica flatly stated (vol.2, p.1324): "David never had a force of chariot warriors (cf. II Sam.. 8:4), and he may have refrained from establishing one for socialreasons." (12)Rohl (p.171) pointed out further that Frank J. Yurco's 1978 discovery - linking the inscription of the "Israel stela" to the "Ashkelon Wall" at Karnak - illustrated a battle scene with chariots being used on both sides. Could it be then that this scene depicts the victorious Ramses II and his post-David Israelite adversary("Salomon"?: 13), thus apparently rendering furthersupport to Rohl's New Chronology.

Jacob/Israel = Amenophis IV/Akhenaton?

§15     Both are said to have changed their name in relation with their monotheistic religion, the first in the Old Testament, the latter according to archeological and historical evidence.

§16     Both are credited with the originator role for monotheism, the first without, the latter with archeologial and historical evidence to support this claim.

§17     Both are credited with a particular 17 years stay in Egypt, the first as "father" of Joseph (Horemheb?) and Pharaoh's guest, the second as Pharaoh himself.

Abraham/Ibrahim = Zarathushtra/Zoroaster?

§18     There is little agreement among the scholars on the birth dates of either patriarch (~1800 - 2000 BC for Abraham/Ibrahim vs. for Zarathushtra/Zoroaster: 26 March 1767 BC: 14). Abraham/Ibrahim's birthplace is usually given as Ur (Iraq), Zarathushtra's birthplace is unknown ("The family lived near the bank of Oxus river in present day Central Asia", ibid.).

§19     Both are associated with monotheism and the end of human sacrifice. The latter is seen as a key date of civilization, signaling the dawn of monotheism in a sea of many gods. "The Christians, following a Jewish tradition, identified Zoroaster with Ezekiel, Nimrod, Seth, Balaam and Baruch ..." (The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol.29, p.1078). Is the call, attributed to Zarathushtra, for "Righteousness" and for "Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds" fundamentally different or identical with the teachings attributed to Abraham/Ibrahim? In the event, would these virtues constitute a common credo?

§20     Both names are associated with sites to which pilgrimages are still being conducted (Abraham/Ibrahim in Mekka and Hebron, Zarathushtra/Zoroaster near Jerusalem).

*          *          *


OC     Old, or Orthodox Chronology
NC     New Chronology
JEA     Journal of Egyptian Archeology, London


(1)    According to research on the Dead Sea Scrolls done by Barbara Thiering (first broadcast in 1990 and subsequently published in: "Jesus the Man"), the authors of the New Testament seem to have developed to new hights the "pesher" technique of accomodating conflicting present and future needs by telling factual stories with all necessary four-dimensional data for those intended to be fully informed, while those seeing only with one eye - i.e. those not familiar with and initiated in this technique - would miss both the true pricture and its depth as they were glancing only at the surface story which was deliberately designed to serve mostly camouflage and mystique purposes.

(2)     As in the case of Rohl's New Chronology, this would not mean that we need to share other arguments and conclusions presented by these and other imaginative scholars. Their suggestions concerning Joseph - themselves sometimes conflicting with each other - are, e.g., at least not yet shared by the editor who, as detailed above, tentatively suggests a look in an entirely different direction.

(3)     The French fashion designer Paco Rabanne who has courageously come forward with his insights - thus exposing himself also to deplorable persistent ridicule as a result of his clouded rendering of events he felt to lay ahead in 1999 - declared in his book "Trajectoire" (p.70/1) that in a previous incarnation he was High Priest under Akhenaton [under the name of Panehasy or Phineas whose tomb behind the city of Akhetaten - where he was not buried - later became the site of a Coptic Christian church?]. Rabanne specified that Akhenaton was driven into the desert by complotting Amon priests, speculating that he was left there to die, and that he, as embalmer, together with 12 other priests of the monotheistic Aton cult, murdered Tutankhamun who, born as Tutankhaten, had betrayed his own father Akhenaton.  Other such esoteric sources evoke unwittingly assisted poisoning attempts involving Akhenaton's eldest daughter Meritaton and the succeeding Pharaoh Semenkhare [Akhenaton's brother?].  Due to his own experiences - in a previous incarnation, he is understood to have lived during the Amarna period -, it is incumbent upon the editor to remain reserved yet open-minded.

(4)cf. the numerous accounts on Akhenaton's apparently genetic physical particularities which he inherited from his father, shared with his brother and transmitted to his daughters (for an illustration: e.g. Rohl, p.198). "...the young king had a drooping jaw, a scrawny neck, sloping shoulders, a pot belly, and thick thighs ...".  The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol.1, p.188.A first personal check of the related original sculptures at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo on 4 November 1997 lead the editor to somewhat different conclusions.  Firstly, the sculptures which seem to be at the root of most of these more or less unflattering descriptions of Akhenaton's physical appearance are of a particular style suggesting one and the same artist. And secondly, particularly the thighs of all other figures represented in these model sculptures - including those of the otherwise apparently slim Nefertiti - were rendered with similar characteristic emphasis and apparently deliberate artistic exageration (reminiscent of Ruben's renderings). Thus, we may at least partially be faced more with a question of artistic style than with one of material substance. And further discoveries may yet show that Akhenaton's apparently abnormally long and wide back head was not complemented by other physical particularities.

(5)     Robert Hari, "Horemheb et la Reine Moutnedjemet, ou la fin d'une dynastie", thèse 179, Université de Genève 1964 (original copies still available at the university library and, with pre-payment of US$ 100, through the editor).
See also Gardiner (p.242) who noted: Horemheb's "parents are unknown, and there is no reason to think that royal blood flowed in his veins, though it is possible that it may have done so in the veins of his spouse Mutnodjme. No children of theirs are recorded, so that any kinship with the first ruler of Dyn. XIX [Ramses I] cannot be affirmed, and indeed is improbable. There is a fine statue in the Turin Museum (JEA xxxix 13ff Pl.1) portraying husband and wife together, with a long inscription on the plinth where his journey to Thebes to be crowned is recounted after a vaguely expressed preface dealing with his antecedents. Thence we learn that he was a native of the unimportant town of Hnes on the east bank of the Nile some 110 miles from Cairo, and that it was to the favour of the local falcon-god Horus that he owed his advancement. ... A passing reference to his being summoned into the royal presence when 'the Palace fell into rage' seems to hint that he faced the wrath of Akhenaten successfully." Horemheb's choice of a successor (Ramses I) "of relatively humble origin" (Gardiner, p.248) may also tell us a few revealing things, tending, a.o., to support Osman's above-quoted interpretation on the competition for the throne between Moses and the future Ramses I.

(6)     In his earlier work, "Stranger in the Valley of the Kings", Ahmed Osman observed that, according to Chapter 47 of the Book of Genesis, "in the course of Joseph's preparations for the impending seven years of famine, all the land of Egypt came into Pharaoh's possession" (p.108).

(7)     B.Porter and R.L.B.Moss, "Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Reliefs and Paintings", vol.I, Oxford, 1927-51

(8)     According to the Encyclopaedia Judaica, vol.7, p.106, it is not excluded that - apart from biblical sources, notably Jacob=Israel (Gen.32:28,29) - this valley may be the source of the name Israel, for: "If the 'Israel' mentioned in the inscription of Merne-ptah ([son of Ramses II] king of Egypt, c.1225 B.C.E. [OC, i.e. ~900 BC NC) is to be identified with Israel and not, as some have suggested, with Jezreel, it is the earliest known use of the name outside the Bible." (ibid.)

(9)Rohl (p.179) pointed out "a Solomonic building technique found in Late Bronze Age Israel and Phoenicia." Yet, the Encyclopaedia Judaica (vol.2, p.1324) indicated:

(10)Rohl (p.182f) observed: "During the 1980s, Professor Gabriel Barkay of Tel Aviv University begun to piece together tantalising clues from incompletely published excavations of the last century which, combined with his own archeological investigations, confirmed an Egyptian enclave had once existed to the north of the Damascus Gate, just outside the walled city of Herod's Jerusalem. ... The objects so far found do not tell us precisely what type of building we are dealing with - it could be a small temple within the residence of a native Egyptian of high rank or, perhaps more likely, the tomb of that Egyptian (as [suggested by W.P.Manley in 1994 in light of] the presence of stone architecture, a funerary stela and an offering table ...). I must say I find all this extremely interesting. The simple facts are that (a) this is the only structure containing Egyptian architectural elements in stone ever found in Jerusalem and (b) the only building (we know of) constructed for a native Egyptian in Israel was that built by Solomon for Pharaoh's Daughter (according to the Old Testament). In the orthodox chronology Barkay's Late Bronze Age structure is much too early to be associated with Solomon, whereas it fits in rather well with the chronology outlined in this book. ... These remains date to Late Bronze IIA-B and are contemporary with the reigns of the Egyptian Pharaohs Haremheb (late reign) and Seti I." What doesn't seem to fit - yet - is Rohl's conclusion (p.185): "King Haremheb is to be identified with the Pharaoh who gave his daughter in marriage to Solomon ..." For Gardiner (p.242) observed in 1961 that "No children of [Horemheb and his wife] are recorded" and unless Rohl can come up with more solid elements on this particular detail, he may want to examine possible alternatives, such as - the still speculative one of - Meritaton, Akhenaton's eldest daughter, thus being honored for her role.

(11)Gardiner (p.171) corrected some Hyksos myths with a more positive over-all picture specifying: "The Hyksos episode was not without effecting certain changes in the material civilization of Egypt. The most important of these was the introduction of the horse and of the horse-drawn chariot which played so large a part in the later history of the country. It is not proved that these importations contributed in any marked degree to the success of the Asiatics, but they certainly were of great assistance to the Egyptians themselves in their subsequent campaigns. New types of daggers and swords, weapons of bronze, and the strong compound Asiatic bow must also be counted among the benefits derived from what could otherwise be regarded only as a national disaster." Also (p.170): "The rare remains of the Hyksos kings point to an earnest endeavour to conciliate the inhabitants and to ape the attributes and the trappings of the weak Pharaohs whom they dislodged. Would they otherwise have adopted the hieroglyphic writing and have furnished themselves with names compounded with that of the sun-god Re? ... Säve-Söderberg (JEA 37, 69) had concluded from the words of the courtiers on the Carnarvon Tablet that a considerable part of the population had resigned themselves to the Asiatic occupation and had found it possible to treat with the invaders on mutually advantageous terms. The further information afforded by the complete stela strongly supports the view, and even suggests that the damage done by the strong man who arose in Thebes was greater than had ever been inflicted by the Hyksos immigrants."

(12)Rohl (p.416, fn 24) explained further: "During the Conquest and Judges periods it is clear from their military tactics that the Israelites have no access to chariot technology. When they confront the army of Hazor in the time of Deborah the Israelite forces choose swampy ground to fight in so as to prevent the successful deployment of the enemy chariots (see C.Herzog & M.Gichon, 'Battles of the Bible', London 1978, pp.49 & 51-53). More particularly, after defeating the chariot forces of Hazor and the northern confederacy at the Battle of Merom, Joshua orders the hamstringing of the enemy horses and the destruction of their chariots as the Israelites had no use for them (ibid., pp. 39-40)."

(13)cf. I Kings 10:26: "Solomon then built up a force of chariots and cavalry; he had one thousand four hundred chariots and twelve thousand horses, these he stationed in the chariot towns and near the king in Jerusalem."

(14) - see also:  and the copyrighted observations published on the Net and attributed to Ardeshir Metha under the title: "About the Age of Oriental Religions"


30 Oct 08   Find of Ancient City Could Alter Notions of Biblical David, NYT, ETHAN BRONNER

David Rohl, A Test of Time, 2005

Martin Abegg, Jr., Peter Flint & Eugene Ulrich, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible - The Oldest Known Bible, Harper San Francisco, 1999

W.F. Albright, The Amarna Letters from Palestine, Cambridge Ancient History, vol.II 2a, 1975, pp.98-116

Sami Awad Aldeeb, Ordre défectueux et déroutant du Coran, 1 juin 2008 (

Sami Awad Aldeeb, Le Coran par ordre chronologique, avec renvoi aux variantes, aux abrogations et aux écrits juifs et chrétiens, Editions de l'Aire, 2008 (pages 1-25)

Cyril Aldred, Akhenaten, King of Egypt, London, 1991

Fawzia Asaad, Freud et les mythes égyptiens, in: Mythes et psychanalyse, In Press, Paris 1997, pp.99-107

Jan Assmann, Moses the Egyptian - The Memory of Egypt in Western Monotheism, Harvard University Press Cambridge, 1998

G. Barkay, A Late Bronze Age Egyptian Temple in Jerusalem, Eretz-Israel, 21, 1990, pp.94-106

J. von Beckerath, The Nile Level Records at Karnak and their Importance for the History of the Lybian Period (Dynasties XXII and XXIII), Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt, nr 6, 1966, p.46f

Manfred Bietak, Egypt and Canaan during the Middle Bronze Age, Bulletin of the American School of Oriental Research, nr 281, 1991, pp.27-72

Maurice Bucaille, La Bible, le coran et la science - les Ecritures saintes examinés à la lumière des connaissances modernes, Seglers Paris, 1976

Alberto Carlo Carpiceci, Art and History of Egypt, Bonechi Florence, 1994

Jaroslav Cerny (ed.), The Inscriptions of Sinai, Egypt Exploration Society London, 1955

Patricia Cohen,  Book Calls Jewish People an ‘Invention’, NYT, 24 Nov 2009

Christiane Descroches-Noblecourt, Toutankhamon, Hachette Paris, 1965

Israel Finkelstein & Neil Asher Silbermann, The Bible Unearthed, Simon & Schuster New York, 2001(

Israel Finkelstein et al., Mineralogical and Chemical Study of the Amarna Tablets, Near Eastern Archaeology 6500 (2002): 196-205

Sigmund Freud, Moses and Monotheism, London, 1939

Alan Gardiner, Egypt of the Pharaohs, Oxford University Press, 1961

Robert Hari, Horemheb et la Reine Moutnedjemet ou la fin d'une dynastie, thèse 179, Université de Genève, 1964

Herodotus, The Histories, Penguin Books Baltimore, 1963

Pierre Hunt et al., Hommes, Sciences et Techniques au Temps des Pharaons, Science & Vie, no.197 (hors série), Paris, décembre 1996

Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, University of California Press Berkeley, 1976

Ardeshir Metha, About the Age of Oriental Religions - an evolving internet site  (e-mail:

W.L. Moran, The Amarna Letters, John Hopkins University Baltimore, 1992

William J. Murnane, The Penguin Guide to Ancient Egypt, Penguin Books London, 1988

B. Newgrosh et al., The el-Amarna Letters and Israelite History, Journal of the Ancient Chronology Forum, nr 6, 1994, pp.33-64

Ahmed Osman, Moses Pharaoh of Egypt - The Mystery of Akhenaten Resolved, Grafton Books, London, 1989 (

-     Stranger in the Valley of the Kings, Souvenir Press London, 1987

Raphael Patai, Sex and Family in the Bible and the Middle East, Doubleday New York, 1959

Béatrice Pellegrini, Origine des hommes modernes, revue critique des faits, des modèles et des hypothèses de la paléontologie, de l'archéologie et de la génétique des populations, thèse 3319, Université de Genève, 1992

Lynn Picknett, Clive Prince, The Templar Revelation, Corgi Books, Transworld Publishers London, 1998

Charles Pope, Ankh-em-ma'at (Living in Truth) The Gospel According to Egypt, ( ¦
-    Living in Truth - Archaeology and the Patriarchs, 2005

James B. Pritchard (ed.), Ancient Near Eastern Texts, Princeton Unversity Press, 1969

Francisco Rabaneda-Cuervo (Paco Rabanne), Trajectoire, Editions J'ai lu Paris 1994

Donald B. Redford, Akhenaten, the Heretic King, Princeton University Press, 1984

James M. Robinson (ed.), The Nag Hammadi Library - The definitive new translation of the Gnostic scriptures, Harper San Francisco, 1990

David M. Rohl, A Test of Time, Arrows Books London, 1996

-      Legend - The Genesis of Civilisation, Arrow Books London, 1998

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William Theaux, Akhnaton, Moses, Oedipus - an evolving INTERNET site (English and French):  (

Barbara Thiering, Jesus the Man, Doubleday, London 1992

-       The Book that Jesus wrote - John's Gospel, Corgi Books, Transworld Publishers London 1998

QUESTIONS (please send your comments to the editor at:

1.     What archeological and/or historical evidence is there that Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David and Salomon actually lived and died where, when and under what circumstances?

2.     Could it be that since aeons - then no less than now - power politics, driven by economic conditions and/or personal ambitions, in most cases were and are at the roots of myths and legends and were and are driving religious choices? (§8)

3.     Could it be that Akhenaton, the Pharaoh, actively shared Horemheb's prediction, e.g. 7 abundant crops followed by 7 lean years? (§9)

4.     Could it be that the affair Horemheb allegedly had with Akhenaton's wife Nefertiti was the reason why, according to Horemheb's own admission, "the Palace fell into rage"? That Nefertiti and Akhenaton - with disastrous consequences for the rest of his reign - separated in the 12th regnal year because of this affair? And that Horemheb survived "the wrath of Akhenaten successfully" only because of his indispensable functions - alas in an ambiguous, shaky and multiply indebted position which may have determined his actions and inactions at the end and beyond Akhenaton's reign? (§10)

5.     Could it be that a wavering, even wobbling Horemheb finally failed the plotting Amon priests (thus also delaying his becoming Pharaoh)? That this allowed Akhenaton's daughter Meritaton to help him escape to the Sinai? And that the mercenary Habiru leader Dadua (David; Amarna Letters EA 256), in an alliance with Horemheb, provided exile to Akhenaton, thus bringing stability also to Palestine? (§11)

6.     All considered - including the Dead Sea Scrolls - could it be that Ahmed Osman's thesis is essentially correct, i.e. the person hidden behind "Moses" is in fact Akhenaton? (§6)

7.     If the reign of David's predessessor, King Saul, were to have occurred in the post-exodus period - as suggested by the Orthodox Chronology, would the king of a monotheistic people have chosen for his youngest son the name of "Ishbaal" (Hebrew for: "Man of Baal", i.e. the god of the polytheistic Philistines)? Does this royal choice of name not tend to indicate a period of rampant polytheism, as was evident in the time prior to the exodus (which then would seem to be fully in line with Rohl's New Chronolgy)? (§12)

8.     Apparently there is no archeological or historical record of either the real name of the successor of King David or his real relationship with the latter - or is there? (§13)

9.     What was the name of the High Priest, what were the names of the 12 priests who remained loyal to Akhenaton, and did they accompany him into exile after the end of his Egyptian reign? (note 3)

10.     Could it be then that the "Salomon" who is credited also with having built up and brought to prosperity Megiddo in the Jezreel (Israel?) valley was in fact Akhenaton who brought into this exile his monotheistic Egyptian community, i.e. that the "Children of Israel" have more in common with Egyptians than they realize? (§14)

11.     Could it be then that the scene on the "Ashkelon Wall" at Karnak depicts the victorious Ramses II and his post-David Israelite adversary "Salomon"=Akhenaton? (§15)

12.     On Merenptah's "Israel stela" we read: "Israel is laid waste, its seed is no more". Did Merenptah thus express subservience and praise to the victorious Amon cult, or was this not primarily an expression of relief - after his father Ramses II had successfully razed Jerusalem (?) - over the final elimination of the constant threat Akhenaton (Moses, evt. Salomon?) had posed to his illegitimate dynasty?

13.     What speaks against, what for taking Abraham/Ibrahim to be identical with Zarathushtra? Is the call for "Righteousness" and "Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good Deeds" fundamentally different or identical with the teachings attributed to Abraham/Ibrahim? Could these virtues be the forgotten, eternally valid and thus readily re-animatable common denominator of all monotheists with a heart and mind open for new and more light?

as rendered by Sir Alan Gardiner (in: Egypt of the Pharaohs, Oxford 1961, p.225f); cfpsalm 104

(1)     "Thou arisest beauteous in the horizon of heaven, O living Aten,
beginner of life when thou didst shine forth in the eastern horizon,
and didst fill every land with thy beauty.

(2)     Thou art comely, great, sparkling, and high above every land,
and thy rays enfold the lands to the limit of all that thou hast made,
thou being the sun and thou reachest their limits and subjectest them to thy beloved son.

(3)     Being far off, yet thy rays are upon the earth.
Thou art in men's faces, yet thy movements are unseen.
When thou settest in the western horizon,
the earth is in darkness after the manner of death.
The night is passed in the bedchamber, heads covered, no eye can see its fellow.
Their belongings are stolen,
even though they be under their heads, and they perceive it not.
Every lion is come forth from its lair and all snakes bite.
Darkness is (the sole) illumination while the earth is in silence,
their maker resting in his horizon.

(4)     The earth grows bright, when thou hast arisen in the horizon,
shining as Aten in the daytime.
Thou banishest darkness and bestowest thy rays.
The Two Lands are in festival,
awakened they stand on their feet, thou hast lifted them up.
Their limbs are cleansed, clothes put on,
and their hands are upraised in praise at thy glorious appearing.
The entire land does its work.
All cattle are at peace upon their pastures.
Trees and pasture grow green.
Birds taking flight from their nest, their wings give praise to thy spirit.
All animals frisk upon their feet.
All that flyeth or alighteth live when thou arisest for them.
Ships fare north and likewise fare south.
Every road is opened at thy appearing.
The fish in the river leap before thy face.
Thy rays are in the Great-Green [sea].
Who causest the male fluid to grow in women
and who makest the water in mankind;
bringing to life the son in the body of his mother;
soothing him by the cessation of his tears;
nurse (already) in the body, who givest air to cause to live all whom thou makest,
and he descendeth from the body to breathe on the day of his birth;
though openest his mouth fully and makest his sustenance.
The chick in the egg, speaketh in the shell;
thou givest him air in it to make him live;
thou hast made for him his completion so as to break it, even the egg,
and he cometh forth from the egg to speak of his completion,
and he walketh upon his two feet when he comes forth from it.

5)     How manifold are thy works.
They are mysterious in men's sight.
Thou sole god, like to whom there is none other.
Thou didst create the earth after thy heart, being alone,
even all men, heards and flocks, whatever is upon earth,
creatures that walk upon feet, which soar aloft flying with their wings,
the countries of Khor [Palestine and Syria] and of Kush, and the land of Egypt.
Thou settest every man in his place, and makest their sustenance,
each one possessing his food, and his term of life counted;
tongues made diverse in speech and their character likewise;
their complexions distinguished country and country.

(6)     Thou makest the Nile-flood in the netherworld,
and bringest it at thy pleasure to give life to the common folk,
even as thou makest them for thyself,
the lord of the all who travailest with them;
the lord of every land who shinest for them,
the Aten of the daytime, great of majesty.
All distant lands, thou hast made their life.
Thou hast set a Nile-flood in the sky [rain],
and it descendeth for them and maketh waves upon the mountains
like the Great-Green to drench their fields in their villages.
How efficacious are thy plans, thou lord of eternity.
A Nile-flood in heaven, it is thy gift to the foreign countries
and to the animals of every country which walk upon feet.
But the Nile-flood comes forth from the netherworld for the land of Egypt.
Thy rays foster every mead.
When thou shinest forth, they live and they grow for thee.

(7)     Thou makest the seasons in order to prosper all that thou hast made,
the winter to cool them, the summer-heat that they may taste of thee.
Thou hast made the sky distant to shine in it and to see all that thou hast made,
being alone and shining in thy various forms as the living Aten,
appearing gloriously and gleaming, being both distant and near.
Thou makest millions of forms out of thee alone,
towns and villages, fields, roads, and rivers.
Every eye beholds thee in front of it, thou being the disk of the daytime. ...

(8)     There is none other that knoweth thee except thy son Neferkhprure-waenre.
Thou hast caused him to be skilled in thy ways and in thy strength.
The earth comes into being upon thy hand even as thou makest them.
Thou hast shone forth and they live.
Thou settest and thy die.
Thou thyself art lifetime and men live by thee.
Eyes are in presence of beauty until thou settest.
All work is laid aside when thou settest on the right [west].
Rising thou makest prosper ... for the king,
movement is in every leg since thou didst found the earth.
Thou raisest them up for thy son who came forth from thy body,
the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, living on Truth,
the lord of the Two Lands Neferkheprure-waenre, the son of Re, living on Truth,
Lord of glorious appearings Akhenaten great in his duration;
with the king's great wife, whom he loves,
the lady of the Two Lands, Nefernefruaten-Nefertiti,
may she live and flourish for ever and ever."

20 Sep 12   Coptic Scholars Doubt and Hail a Reference to Jesus’ Wife, NYT, LAURIE GOODSTEIN
18 Sep 12   A Faded Piece of Papyrus Refers to Jesus’ Wife, NYT, LAURIE GOODSTEIN

September 18, 2012

A Faded Piece of Papyrus Refers to Jesus’ Wife

‘The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife’ A historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School has identified a papyrus fragment in the Coptic language that she says contains the first known statement saying that Jesus was married. The fragment also refers to a female disciple. Translated legible text:

“not [to] me. My mother gave to me li[fe]”“The disciples said to Jesus”“deny. Mary is worthy of it”“Jesus said to them, “My wife”“she will be able to be my disciple”“Let wicked people swell up”“As for me, I dwell with her in order to”“an image

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School has identified a scrap of papyrus that she says was written in Coptic in the fourth century and contains a phrase never seen in any piece of Scripture: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife ...’ ”

The faded papyrus fragment is smaller than a business card, with eight lines on one side, in black ink legible under a magnifying glass. Just below the line about Jesus having a wife, the papyrus includes a second provocative clause that purportedly says, “she will be able to be my disciple.”

Professor Karen L. King, in her office at The Harvard Divinity School, held a fragment of papyrus that she says was written in Coptic in the fourth century and contains a reference to Jesus' wife. Evan McGlinn for The New York Times

The finding was made public in Rome on Tuesday at an international meeting of Coptic scholars by Karen L. King, a historian who has published several books about new Gospel discoveries and is the first woman to hold the nation’s oldest endowed chair, the Hollis professor of divinity.

The provenance of the papyrus fragment is a mystery, and its owner has asked to remain anonymous. Until Tuesday, Dr. King had shown the fragment to only a small circle of experts in papyrology and Coptic linguistics, who concluded that it is most likely not a forgery. But she and her collaborators say they are eager for more scholars to weigh in and perhaps upend their conclusions.

Even with many questions unsettled, the discovery could reignite the debate over whether Jesus was married, whether Mary Magdalene was his wife and whether he had a female disciple. These debates date to the early centuries of Christianity, scholars say. But they are relevant today, when global Christianity is roiling over the place of women in ministry and the boundaries of marriage.

The discussion is particularly animated in the Roman Catholic Church, where despite calls for change, the Vatican has reiterated the teaching that the priesthood cannot be opened to women and married men because of the model set by Jesus.

Dr. King gave an interview and showed the papyrus fragment, encased in glass, to reporters from The New York Times, The Boston Globe and Harvard Magazine in her garret office in the tower at Harvard Divinity School last Thursday . She left the next day for Rome to deliver her paper on the find on Tuesday at the International Congress of Coptic Studies.

She repeatedly cautioned that this fragment should not be taken as proof that Jesus, the historical person, was actually married. The text was probably written centuries after Jesus lived, and all other early, historically reliable Christian literature is silent on the question, she said.

But the discovery is exciting, Dr. King said, because it is the first known statement from antiquity that refers to Jesus speaking of a wife. It provides further evidence that there was an active discussion among early Christians about whether Jesus was celibate or married, and which path his followers should choose.

“This fragment suggests that some early Christians had a tradition that Jesus was married,” Dr. King said. “There was, we already know, a controversy in the second century over whether Jesus was married, caught up with a debate about whether Christians should marry and have sex.”

Dr. King first learned about what she calls “The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” when she received an e-mail in 2010 from a private collector who asked her to translate it. Dr. King, 58, specializes in Coptic literature, and has written books on the Gospel of Judas, the Gospel of Mary of Magdala, Gnosticism and women in antiquity.

The owner, who has a collection of Greek, Coptic and Arabic papyri, is not willing to be identified by name, nationality or location, because, Dr. King said, “He doesn’t want to be hounded by people who want to buy this.”

When, where or how the fragment was discovered is unknown. The collector acquired it in a batch of papyri in 1997 from the previous owner, a German. It came with a handwritten note in German that names a professor of Egyptology in Berlin, now deceased, and cited him calling the fragment “the sole example” of a text in which Jesus claims a wife.

The owner carried the fragment to the Divinity School in December 2011 and left it with Dr. King. She said she was initially suspicious, but it looked promising enough to explore. Three months later, she carried the fragment in her red handbag to New York to show it to two colleagues, both papyrologists: Roger Bagnall, director of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, at New York University, and AnneMarie Luijendijk, an associate professor of religion at Princeton University.

They examined the scrap under sharp magnification. It was very small — only 4 by 8 centimeters. The lettering was splotchy and uneven, the hand of an amateur, but not unusual for the time period, when many Christians were poor and persecuted.

It was written in Coptic, an Egyptian language that uses Greek characters — and more precisely, in Sahidic Coptic, a dialect from southern Egypt, Dr. Luijendijk said in an interview.

What convinced them it was probably genuine was the fading of the ink on the papyrus fibers, and traces of ink adhered to the bent fibers at the torn edges. The back side is so faint that only five words are visible, one only partly: “my moth[er],” “three,” “forth which.”

“It would be impossible to forge,” said Dr. Luijendijk, who contributed to Dr. King’s paper.

Dr. Bagnall reasoned that a forger would have had to be expert in Coptic grammar, handwriting and ideas. Most forgeries he has seen were nothing more than gibberish. And if it were a forgery intended to cause a sensation or make someone rich, why would it have lain in obscurity for so many years?

“It’s hard to construct a scenario that is at all plausible in which somebody fakes something like this. The world is not really crawling with crooked papyrologists,” Dr. Bagnall said.

The piece is torn into a rough rectangle, so that the document is missing its adjoining text on the left, right, top and bottom — most likely the work of a dealer who divided up a larger piece to maximize his profit, Dr. Bagnall said.

Much of the context, therefore, is missing. But Dr. King was struck by phrases in the fragment like “My mother gave to me life,” and “Mary is worthy of it,” which resemble snippets from the Gospels of Thomas and Mary. Experts believe those were written in the late second century and translated into Coptic. She surmises that this fragment is also copied from a second century Greek text.

The meaning of the words, “my wife,” is beyond question, Dr. King said. “These words can mean nothing else.” The text beyond “my wife” is cut off.

Dr. King did not have the ink dated using carbon testing. She said it would require scraping off too much, destroying the relic. She still plans to have the ink tested by spectroscopy, which could roughly determine its age by its chemical composition.

Dr. King submitted her paper to The Harvard Theological Review, which asked three scholars to review it. Two questioned its authenticity, but they had seen only low-resolution photographs of the fragment and were unaware that expert papyrologists had seen the actual item and judged it to be genuine, Dr. King said. One of the two questioned the grammar, translation and interpretation.

Ariel Shisha-Halevy, an eminent Coptic linguist at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, was consulted, and responded in an e-mail in September, “I believe — on the basis of language and grammar — the text is authentic.”

Major doubts allayed, The Review plans to publish Dr. King’s article in its January issue.

The owner has offered to donate the papyrus to Harvard if the university buys a “substantial part of his collection,” Dr. King said, which Harvard is considering. She said she will “push him to come forward,” in part to avoid stoking conspiracy theories.

The notion that Jesus had a wife was the central conceit of the best seller and movie “The Da Vinci Code.” But Dr. King said she wants nothing to do with the code or its author: “At least, don’t say this proves Dan Brown was right.”

September 20, 2012

Coptic Scholars Doubt and Hail a Reference to Jesus’ Wife

When Karen L. King, a historian of early Christianity, announced this week that she had identified a fragment of ancient Coptic text in which Jesus utters the words “my wife,” she said she was making the finding public — despite many unresolved questions — so that her academic colleagues could weigh in.

And weigh in, they have. A few said that the papyrus must be a forgery. Others have questioned Dr. King’s interpretation of its meaning. Some have faulted her for publishing a paper on an item of unknown provenance. And many have criticized her decision to give the scrap of papyrus the attention-getting title “The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife,” as if it had equal weight to other, lengthier texts that are known as Gospels.

But even some of those casting doubt are also applauding her work. Many scholars said in interviews that they were excited by the discovery, because if it is genuine, it suggests at least one community of early adherents to Christianity believed that Jesus was married.

“It’s obviously an important find,” said Carl R. Holladay, professor of New Testament studies at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University.

However, he added, “The circumstances in which it’s come to light really require all scholars to be really cautious about how we proceed.”

Dr. King has reiterated that the fragment is not proof that Jesus was married because it was most likely written three and a half centuries after his death, making it historically unreliable. She has emphasized that the fragment is merely a glimpse of a discussion among early Christians about whether their savior was married or celibate.

Despite her cautions, the finding has prompted “Jesus Was Married” headlines around the world — and jokes about Mrs. Jesus’ “honey-do” list.

The papyrus fragment, which measures only about 1 ½ by 3 inches, is written in Coptic that Dr. King says is consistent with writing seen in fourth-century Egypt. It is roughly rectangular, torn on all four sides, so that each line of text is incomplete. The ink on the front side contains eight lines, dark enough to be legible. Line 4 purportedly says, “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife...’ ”

Other phrases in the text suggest that it is an account of a dialogue between Jesus and his disciples, Dr. King maintains. According to her translation, Line 3 includes the words “Mary is worthy of it.” Line 5, immediately after the line about Jesus’ wife, says, “...she will be able to be my disciple.” Line 7 says, “As for me, I dwell with her in order to...”

Dr. King, who holds a chair at Harvard Divinity School, has written extensively about the Gospels of Mary, Judas and Philip, relatively recent discoveries that are not a part of the established biblical canon. Even before this week, Dr. King was a favorite target of religious leaders who consider the Bible the literal word of God.

Two years ago, Dr. King said, she received an e-mail from a collector who asked her to translate a piece of papyrus that contained a reference to Jesus’ wife. She said that the owner does not know the provenance of the fragment, and has asked to remain anonymous.

In Rome, Dr. King presented a paper on the papyrus on Tuesday at a meeting of the International Association of Coptic Studies. The Associated Press quoted several of her colleagues there as saying that the handwriting, grammar and shape of the fragment made them suspect it was forged. (Several of those scholars did not respond to e-mails or to phone messages.).

Reached at her hotel in Rome, Dr. King said that as soon as she returns to the United States, she plans to have the ink on the fragment tested to determine whether it is truly ancient.

“The testing won’t be definitive, but it will be one more piece” of evidence, she said. She already had it examined by two papyrologists and a Coptic linguist, who deemed it most likely authentic.

Several scholars said in interviews that Dr. King should not have agreed to study the fragment without verifying that it was not obtained illegally.

Jennifer Sheridan Moss, president of the American Society of Papyrologists and an associate professor of classics at Wayne State University in Detroit, said that the society would probably not publish a paper on a piece of papyrus without knowing its provenance. “But if something this interesting came up, I suspect we would pursue more information on its provenance,” she said.

Aside from questions about the fragment’s authenticity and provenance, some scholars have questioned Dr. King’s interpretation, since the fragment lacks context. Echoing others, Darrell L. Bock, senior research professor of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, said in an interview that “my wife” could be a metaphorical reference to “the church,” which in the Bible the apostle Paul calls “the bride” of Christ.

But Dr. Holladay disagreed, saying: “The papyrus seems to reflect some kind of conversation between Jesus and his disciples in which he’s talking about real people. The language is not being used metaphorically.”