Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Who was Abraham? (17)

Based on the works of scholars, who will be revealed when the blogging for this topic ends. Works of other authors may be included, but where these are done, full acknowledgement will be made.

Advice: Those who may take offence in seeing biblical (OT) quotations or liberal discussion of OT biblical characters should not read this topic.

While Amenhotep IV (or Akhenaten) was growing up with relatives in Zarw, his mum Queen Tiye consolidated her powers in the royal city of Thebes. Though she wasn’t of royal lineage she was appointed by her infatuated husband as the Great Royal Wife, effectively the Queen, a post that should have been held by Sitamun, the Pharaoh’s first wife and royal sister.

[Note: some books have Sitamun as Pharaoh Amenhotep III's daughter. Ancient Egyptian royals had a matriarchal inheritance lineage, that was, via the women, thus many pharaohs became rulers by marrying their sisters the true inheritors of the throne. Therefore it would not have been strange nor incestuous for Pharaoh Amenhotep III to marry his royal sister Sitamun in order to hold on to the throne of Egypt]

Sitamun had a daughter, Nefertiti, one of history’s most beautiful women. Obviously Nefertiti was of the direct royal line, so Amenhotep IV was married to his half-sister to secure his royal position on the throne of Egypt.

Once Amenhotep IV felt he was reasonably safe from the hostile Amunites, he returned to Thebes to rule as co-regent to his royal father the elder Pharaoh. Because he grew up in Zarw, away from the standard warrior cadetship that other sons of Pharaohs and nobility underwent, and obviously under the enormous influence of the priests of On, he was more interested in promoting his religion than conducting the affairs of a young king or noble.

His efforts in promoting Aten worship in Thebes was pursued in a high handed manner, such as taking over temples of Amun-Re for his god, and at the same time desecrating other Egyptian gods. He even had the name of Amun chiselled away from temples and obelisks.

Note: Amenhotep IV was probably the world's first monotheist cum Taliban in his attitude towards the images of other gods

Evidently in his religious zeal he forgot that Thebes was the stronghold of the Amun priesthood, and his actions were highly offensive to them. He had to be stopped from his reckless proselytising behaviour before the affront to the Amunites became too damaging.

The elder Pharaoh ordered him to build a new city for devotion to Aten rather than offend the powerful Amun priesthood in Thebes. He went downriver and selected a place which is today’s Tel el Amarna for his new religious centre. He called the city Akhetaten, the horizon of Aten.

There is archaeological evidence that his father, the elder Pharaoh, was still alive after he build the new city. But when the old man passed away, and Amenhotep IV or Akhenaten became the principal Pharaoh, he pursued his Aten worship even more ruthlessly.

He turned Akhetaten into the world’s most beautiful city, a ‘city of gold and light’, a veritable Garden of Eden, where every need of the Pharaoh and his entourage were taken care of in the most lavish manner.

In fact the wealth of the land were virtually stripped for the use of the inhabitants of Akhetaten. All those who stayed in his holy city must convert to his Aten religion, whether they were bakers, builders, painters, artisans masons, or nobility, etc.

Apart from lovely Egyptian women, Akhenaten invited the most beautiful Canaanite, Hittite, Mitannian, Phoenician, Midianite, Nubian, Babylonian and neighbouring princesses to join his entourage. He basically formed his own ‘beautiful people’, turning Akhetaten into an international cosmopolitan city.

When his father, Amenhotep III passed away, probably in their 12th year of co-regency, Akhenaten emerged as the most powerful man in Egypt. He was by now so obsessed by his Aten worship, and began to pushed for the forceful spread of his religion. That’s when trouble began for him.

To be continued ……..

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