Pharaoh Akhnaton invented the idea.
Learn why his people destroyed him.
2nd January 2011
for Martin Hoffman, ex-MD
A lovely lady named Savitri Devi wrote a series of sweet books about who she thought was the greatest man the world had ever seen — Akhnaton, the so-called heretic pharaoh of ancient Egypt, who brought the concept of monotheism into the world. But Akhnaton let his empire molder and die, and disappeared into the dust with only this one ineradicable conceptual achievement to keep his name alive for three thousand years — the invention of the one god above all.
The man who invented psychology, Sigmund Freud, thought so highly of Akhnaton that he tried his best several times to attribute the Hebrew religion to this odd pharaoh’s precepts, speculating in chapter after chapter how Moses might have interfaced with Akhnaton’s idea that the Sun was the source of everything and all those other gods were simply not of the same all-encompassing magnitude. But in his last book, Moses and Monotheism (1939), Freud couldn’t make the connection convincingly, and was left guessing because Egyptology was not sufficiently advanced in his time; plus, he didn’t live long enough to learn that the Old Testament was a clumsy fiction of writers fabricating a tradition out of ideas stolen from other cultures.
Today we have Princeton University Egyptologist Donald B. Redford (2002) vaporizing the idea that anything in the Old Testament was ever accurate historical fact, that the Exodus was in reality a garbled version of the expulsion of the Hyksos invaders, and that the events represented in the OT really happened centuries later than everyone believes. So Freud’s attempt to link Akhnaton and Moses failed not only timewise but by intent, as Akhnaton’s god Aton was a pacifistic bestower of the gift of life on humanity, whereas Moses’s dictatorial Yahweh — or Jahve, as Freud called him — was a violent volcano god more interested in scaring his flock into submission than in loving them — or let’s say, more interested in the profits than the promise.
But just when we thought we had everything figured out, out of the woodwork pops an old book, a disturbing master work — Immanuel Velikovsky’s Oedipus and Akhnaton (1960) — and all of sudden we have a sudden and disturbing concordance . . . that the inventor of a religious system that has captured most of the known world . . . turns out to have been a deformed freak who earned the hatred of his own people for violating the world’s oldest taboo. And it was a hatred that sought, after Akhnaton had been deposed in disgust, to rub his name out of history for all time, which is why most of his monuments no longer exist.
Yet somehow, as the wind of time blows clouds of dust over the momentous accounts of history, the part of Akhnaton that traveled three millennia into the future — surely the longest lasting unchanged idea in history — was his oft repeated insistence that the Sun was the One True God enfolding us in His life giving rays. It was the very origin of monotheism; on this point, all the experts agree. The romantic writer Savitri Devi took his peace-loving message to rhapsodic extremes in a missive titled Akhnaton’s Eternal Message: A scientific religion 3300 years old when she wrote:
The main feature of Akhnaton’s character is uncompromising truthfulness, perfect sincerity, allied to the rare courage to stick to what he considered right, even at the cost of the highest of interests. It has been said that, to his eyes, what is, was right, and nothing could be better said, provided we realize the full meaning of the sentence. What is, here, means what is real, in the religious sense what does not depend upon men’s whims or men’s interests what is in consistence with the eternal order of the Universe, with the laws of life which are the laws of God. And the law of God, according to Akhnaton’s teaching, is love.
From what we know of it through the beautiful relics . . . and through the inscriptions, Akhnaton’s private life, even judged from the standpoint of the purest morality, was spotless. It was not the life of an ascetic, conscious of the power of sin in the midst of his renunciation of it, but that of a man who, by nature, seems to have had no tendency to either excess or perversion, and, at the same time, no prejudice against the innocent pleasures of life. www.savitridevi.org/works.html
So spoke the perceptions of a true believer, an eloquent promoter of godliness, who seized upon a fragment from history and turned it into a beautiful bouquet. In our happiness, we often forget that the view of the true believer, magnificent though it may be, is only ever frosting on a cake that inevitably has an entirely different flavor.
Freud’s interest in Akhnaton had a similar focus — link the concept of monotheism to this eloquent pharaoh to provide some shred of historical legitimacy to a Jewish religion that otherwise had none. But the Jewish tradition of the Exodus has been proved impossible. No archeological evidence has ever been found of either it or ancient Israel in the 10th century BC and earlier, because it didn’t exist, although the Old Testament very clearly insists that it did. And Manetho’s story (3rd century BC) about the tyrannical Shepherd Kings who seized control of Egypt for four generations tells a very different story about the plague and warfare that the Hyksos (later the Phoenicians and still later the Jews) brought to his country before they were driven out. The lepers, Manetho called them, although that could have been just because their ideas were radically different from the Egyptian natives. It’s the familiar figures of the Old Testament Manetho is really talking about.
In Moses and Monotheism Freud all but admits there was no direct connection between the Moses of the Exodus and what the Jews later came to call their Mosaic religion, noting that gaps several centuries long passed when Hebrews worshipped regional gods until the legend of Moses was resurrected at a later time in an attempt to give a monotheistic Jewish religion its apparent credibility.
A qualified scientist rather than a proselytizer of his own scientific discipline like Freud, Professor Redford raised an interesting question in his voluminous mastery of ancient literature, implying that Akhnaton was a provable figure in history, whereas the case for Moses is not so solid. He writes:
“It is hard in the present state of our knowledge to come to any decision in this matter. One cannot rid oneself of the dismay attendant upon the realization that our lengthy and detailed account of Moses, in all his roles, is late (in history) . . . and that, although the figure of this charismatic leader may well have been the focus of legend much earlier, for us this prior stage in the formulation of the tradition is a dead letter.
“Moreover, one cannot help but sense in the entire Mosaic tradition, as we now have it, a pervasive, informing element, which produces nought but effect. . . . All this may be highly entertaining; but it is literary artifice, not history. The author is playing secondarily upon a primary Mosaic tradition that he does not allow us to see. The vast majority of the "facts" he now gives us about Moses are demonstratively late, and worthless in the task of uncovering the historical basis for the early "hero."
In other words, Redford concludes that the very historical character of Moses was a fictional artifice created hundreds of years after he supposedly existed and parted the Red Sea, enabling his oppressed Jewish kinsmen to flee the wrath of the evil pharaoh.
Redford continues to tell Egypt’s side of the story about the biblical book known as the Exodus, Manethos Aegypticus, written in the 3rd century BC.
The use of the Greek terms "lepers" and "unclean" suggests a pejorative in the original Egyptian (or demotic) that in Pharaonic propaganda was customarily attached to undesirable antisocial elements, whether native or foreign. In the present case it seems clear that the devotees of Akhenaton's sun cult are the historical reality underlying the "lepers," and this is confirmed by the iconoclastic nature of the lepers' legislation and the figure of thirteen years for the occupation, which corresponds to the period of occupation of Amarna (the citadel Akhnaton built for himself and his god).
Aton, represented by a sun disc, was the only true god, Akhnaton repeated throughout his apparently brief life. His choice to decommission the existing religious system in Egypt at a time when hundred-gated Thebes was the biggest and brightest city in the world, needless to say, made him some enemies. These enemies restored the old system of many gods after they dislodged and disgraced Akhnaton.
As a child, probably because of his bizarre physical appearance, Akhnaton was sent away to live with the Mitanni, a tribe well up the Euphrates in what is now northwestern Iraq. His father, Amenhotep II, had continued the expansion of the Egyptian empire to its furthest reaches before he died. A warning from pharaoh’s soothsayers had caused the young Akhnaton to be sent away, and upon his return, he wreaked the vengeance that had consumed him all his life. His choice was to smother the land with love and become a pacifist, apparently. Which is why Egypt lost all its foreign territories.
The fateful question lingers for all eternity: Why if Akhnaton invented such a great religious system and was called by the great Egyptologist James Henry Breasted the first individual in human history, was he destroyed by his own people, and his memory defaced for all time?
The answer was found in the classic literature of ancient Greece by one of the great scholars of any century, Immanuel Velikovsky, an intellectual superstar of the mid-20th century who is much better known for changing the way science views the history of our own solar system through his groundbreaking and earthshaking books Worlds in Collision, Ages in Chaos, and Mankind in Amnesia. http://varchive.org/
Former colleague (?) of both Freud and Einstein, Velikovsky consistently startled the scientific world with his radical pronouncements about practically everything and due to his stupendous scholarship, consistently turned out to be right. From his early days of reading the famous Greek playwrights, Velikovsky was struck by the fact that almost all of them wrote plays about Oedipus, the ill-fated king who inadvertently killed his father, unknowingly married his mother, and when these facts were made public, began an odyssey of agony unmatched in Western literature.
This frequency of plays led Velikovsky to believe they all were describing a genuine historical event, and his subsequent investigation unearthed an avalanche of matching facts.
A blind seer warns the king that his son is a danger to him and must be killed or sent away. Loving parents send him away. In Sophocles’ most famous Greek tragedy, many years later a now grown Oedipus meets his father on the road, and, not knowing who he is, argues with and kills him. Thereupon, he seizes his father’s kingdom, marries his wife and produces many children by her before he learns the awful secret and its accidental consequences.
On the banks of the Nile, centuries earlier, things went slightly differently. Akhnaton was born a son of the king, but deformed, with enormous thighs and a football shaped head. A blind seer tells his father he is a danger, and the son is shipped off to a foreign country, never to be mentioned again. When his father dies, Akhnaton is summoned to be the new pharaoh.
Akhnaton builds a new city, now known at Tell-el-Amarna (its archeological name), has beautiful daughters by his beautiful wife Nefertiti, and seems to walk around in the nude a lot, judging by the paintings of him in various wall paintings. All the time, the real power running Egypt was his mother, Queen Tiy, widow of Amenhotep II, who recalled her son from exile and remained with him the remainder of his days.
Akhnaton decommissions Egypt’s existing religion, angering many powerful priests and nobles. Worse, Akhnaton ignores all his overseas commitments, and abandons his allies. The empire begins to fall apart.
Somewhere along the way, Akhnaton gets rid of his beautiful wife Nefertiti. She is never heard from again. Then comes the coup de grace, followed by the everlasting verdict of history.
Akhnaton fathers a child by his mother, and subsequently tries to delegitimize his other children in favor of the newborn favorite.
I’m guessing, and Velikovsky was, too, that this was about the time the Egyptian elite rose up and got him the hell out of there for making such a perverted spectacle of himself. The Egyptian empire survived for a time but never recovered the former vitality that had guided it for two thousand years, and that was at a point three thousand years ago.
So here we have the twist of history: an idea by one of the most demented minds ever to walk the planet has lasted three thousand years and today dominates most aspects of our lives, if you subscribe to the notion that what we believe is what we actually do, and that most people at least say they believe in the one god, and try to adhere to the tenets of what people who claim to be his representatives pass on to us, right?
So now is the time, with the perspective of all those centuries, to ask where this belief in the one god has taken us.
In these times we have referred to above, gods were like nationalities each country had a different one. But as Velikovsky reports, Zeus, Jupiter, Marduk, Baal and Shiva were all essentially the same god, only in different languages. Only one people didn’t have an obvious god connection, and that was the Phoenicians, the consummate traders who stay mostly invisible in the history books, but they gave us our alphabet and in 300 BC were running a tin route from Egypt to England, among other things.
The one god concept really never outcompeted the local god concept until Christianity came along and sent its franchises all over the world. By then everyone had forgotten that the original idea had emanated from a reviled renegade pharaoh who changed the course of history.
And the much respected Professor Redford drew a pointed conclusion to his efforts to research the Exodus, Moses and these related matters.
One final irony lies in the curious use to which the Exodus narrative is put in modern religion, as a symbolic tale of freedom from tyranny. An honest reading of the account of Exodus and Numbers cannot help but reveal that the tyranny Israel was freed from, namely that of Pharaoh, was mild indeed in comparison to the tyranny of Yahweh to which they were about to submit themselves. As a story of freedom the Exodus is distasteful in the extreme. I much prefer the account of Leonidas and his three hundred at Thermopylae and in an age when thinking men are prepared to shape their prejudice on the basis of 3,000-year old precedent, it (the Exodus story) is highly dangerous.
Bibliography: Savitri Devi: www.savitridevi.org/works.html
Donald Redford: www.mailstar.net/archaeology-bible.html
(excerpts courtesy of the great Australian scholar Peter Myers)
Sigmund Freud: Moses and Monotheism, 1939
Immanuel Velikovsky: Oedipus and Akhnaton, 1960
John Kaminski is a writer who lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida, urging people to understand that no problem in the world can be authentically addressed without first analyzing tangents caused by Jewish perfidy, which has subverted and diminished every aspect of human endeavor throughout history. Support for his work is wholly derived from people who can understand what he’s saying and know what it means.
John Kaminski is a writer who lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida, constantly trying to figure out why we are destroying ourselves, and pinpointing a corrupt belief system as the engine of our demise. Solely dependent on contributions from readers, please support his work by mail: 6871 Willow Creek Circle #103, North Port FL 34287 USA.