Monday, June 06, 2005

Who was Abraham? (19)

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.

Following Akhenaten’s self-exile, the reign of the other 3 Amarna kings took their course. His half-brother Smenkhare, who was still a devoted Aten-ist, had a very brief reign, and was probably assassinated because he was still upholding the unpopular Aten religion.

Smenkhare's rule was then assumed by Akhenaten’s young son - or perhaps another half-brother - the young child Tut-ankh-aten who, under Aye’s guidance, changed his name to Tut-ankh-amun (our world famous Pharaoh, usually mispronounced by today's news reporter as Tu-tan-khamun) to appease the Amun priesthood.

Tutankhamun restored the ‘old gods’ as a necessary process of reconciliation with the powerful Amunites. Under his reign, the worship of Amun was consecrated to its pre-eminent position and glory. Finally, following the death of Tutankhamun, the last Amarna Pharaoh was Aye himself.

[Note: there were suspicions that Aye and Horemheb murdered the young Pharaoh, but this has recently been disapproved. Tutankhamun broke his leg, probably from falling off a chariot. The wound became infectious, killing him. This seems to be supportive of the fact that he ruled for 9 years. If he was to be assassinated, it would have been more logically done during his more tender years]

After Aye’s demise General Horemheb ascended to the throne and went about erasing the entire existence of the Amarna dynasty, even forbidding the mention of Akhenaten’s name. The people of Akhenaten were considered as social lepers.

When Horemheb died without any heirs, his Grand Vizier Rameses (or Ra-moses) was declared Pharaoh.

According to Osman, Akhenaten on hearing Ramoses’ claim to the throne returned to Egypt in an attempt to reclaim his rightful place as the Pharaoh. To prove his royal credentials he demonstrated two things:

The first was to show his royal sceptre with the bronze serpent.

“And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,

When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shrew a miracle for you: than thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent.

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”
(Exodus 6: 8-10)

The Biblical tale went to show that when the Pharaoh’s sorcerers did the same serpent transformation with their staffs, Aaron’s serpent (actually Moses’) swallowed up the Egyptian snakes.

Now good Jews and Christians know that a monotheist like Moses wasn’t given to nonsensical pagan stuff like magic and sorcery. Why would he ever indulge in such a silly gimmick like a snake trick to frighten the mighty Pharaoh of Egypt – a Pharaoh who had far more magicians and sorcerers under his command than anyone in the world?

No, the Biblical tale was an allegory that Moses’ royal credentials and claims to the throne of Egypt was proven by the exhibition of his royal Pharaonic sceptre. That his claims were more substantial than Ramoses was explained by the allegory of his serpent swallowing up the Pretender's snakes.

The Bible, as evasive as ever, has the person casting the magic serpent-rod as Aaron rather than Moses, the actual owner of the rod. The Bible explained this away in Chapter 4 of the Book of Exodus (4:1 to 17) by saying that Moses was too under confident to confront Pharaoh with the spells, and attempted to avoid the showdown by telling God he wasn't eloquent enough and was slow of speech.

Needless to say, for the Biblical exodus to ever occur, Moses had to do it, or the tale would have ended there. So a by-then-pretty-pissed-off God thundered that he wasn’t going to let old cowardly Mosie get away, and instructed him to take Aaron along as the spokesman.

The Koran was less circumspect.

We’ll discuss the other thing Moses did to prove his royal credentials as well as what the Koran says of this event.

To be continued ……..

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