The relationship with gods/god has always been one of man’s oldest preoccupations, and still is till this very day. And while it’s fair to assume that Modern day man owes his advancement in philosophy and science to ancient Greece and its earliest thinkers, it’s equally fair, when it comes to the development of religion and the evolution of religious thinking, to give credence to the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia.
In fact, the earliest vestiges of human faith in God, as we know it today, are to be traced back to the valley of the river Nile and between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris. We’re surely to find the root of our belief in a supreme creator inscribed, in hieroglyphs and cuneiform, on the pyramids and papyri of ancient Egypt and on the clay tablets of Sumer … And not within the confines of the Hebrew Bible, as many still believe.
And if we still cherish the Greek school of wisdom and science and continue to build on the teachings of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Pythagoras, I wonder why we stopped honoring the ancient gods of Egypt and Sumer and Babylon.
What has become of the mighty gods of the ancient Near East? What happened to Anu and Enlil, what has become of the beautiful Goddess “Inanna” Ishtar … The one god, Aten, and what happened to the omnipotent Amun/Amen of Thebes? … Amen, whose name is still echoing in every house of prayers of all organized religions on earth?
How come we fail to recall any of the magnificent epics of Sumer (watch video of the epic of Gilgamesh) or the amazing mythology of Egypt (watch video of the Egyptian creation myth) whereas our kids know the stories of the Hebrew Bible by heart?
But then again, if our kids are to be introduced to the myths of ancient Egypt and the epics of Sumer (watch video of the Sumerian creation myth) they won’t feel like they are in a strange land. The stories of Sumer and Egypt will sound so familiar.“A lot of the stories in the Old Testament are in fact plagiarized material, particularly from the rich mythical heritage of the Sumerians – the inventors of writing. The story of Noah and the flood story, the creation of man out of clay, Cain and Abel, the gardens of Eden, the tree of knowledge, creation of Eve from Adams rib, and numerous other myths, like the throwing of Moses after he was born in the river, are all but stories found recorded on Sumerian clay tablets dating 5000 years back in time.”
… This has long been common knowledge amongst the scholars of history, archeology and anthropology, but I find it extremely necessary today, in the so called information age, to drag it out of the academia realm and expose it in the open before the public eyes.
Why do we remember and celebrate legendary figures like David and Solomon who had no bearing on the human history course, while we hardly recognize the enormous impact historical figures like Akhenaten or Hammurabi had on how we today come to define monotheism and the rule of law. (Watch video of Hammurabi’s code of laws, some of which are echoed in Moses’s commandments)
But then, what do we, men of modern times, know or even care? … We were only told that in the beginning was the word. But according to history … it wasn’t.
In the beginning, was the river – the Nile in Egypt and Tigris and Euphrates in Mesopotamia. The river and the profound connection with nature gave the Egyptians and the Sumerians not only the stability and prosperity but also the craving to contemplate the creation of our cosmos and how life on earth came to be.
In other words, the river made the Egyptians and the Sumerians religious, and in a philosophical way. But does that mean that non-agricultural communities were not religious?
To answer that question, we first have to differentiate between religion and rituals. Most primitive communities, e.g., nomadic tribes like the Hebrews, had their local deities, as gods of war and fertility. On the other hand, a religion in ancient Egypt was not a religion of comfort or beneficence. It was an all-embracing doctrine, like a harmony that was observed by all the players in a big philharmonic orchestra. It was a way of life.
These Egyptian and Mesopotamian religions were Mythopoeic. Whereas our world view may be scientific or rational, so we tend to believe, these river civilizations adopted a world view based on myth.
The biggest copyright infringement in history
The stark resemblance between Biblical and Sumerian creation stories poses some serious questions Now that we know that religion, with colossal temples and ziggurats and creation myths, first sprouted along the fertile banks of the Tigris and Euphrates in Mesopotamia and the river Nile in Egypt, how could we explain the dominance of Judaism, some tribal cult which supposedly originated (centuries later in time) amid the arid terrains of Canaan, over the Egyptian and Sumerian once thriving theologies?
Actually Judaism didn’t, surpass the influence of the Egyptian nor the Sumerian theology; this was a formidably hard task for any nomadic community to aspire for, instead Judaism did it the easy way.
As the antiquity era was approaching an end, and as the hieroglyphic and the cuneiform writings were getting extinct, the Hebrews simply stole the Egyptian and the Sumerian thunder. The Hebrew scribes, whom I presume knew what they were doing, copycatted the famous myths/epics of ancient Egypt and Sumer, in what could be the world’s first and yet the biggest copyright infringement, and stuffed their Bible with them.
The Hebrews as nomadic tribes, and later as tradesmen, were always on the move all over the Fertile Crescent that was bounded to the west by Egypt and to the east by Sumer and Babylon (Mesopotamia). Their constant journeys gave them access to the famous epics and stories/myths of the ancient Near East.
When The Hebrew scribes began to write down parts of their old testament/chronicles, which they never imagined, nor planned to be a holy Bible, it was not an overnight job, rather it was a lengthy and interrupted process that may have started around the time of the Assyrian invasion (722 BCE) of the Levant, during which all of Canaan was virtually an Egyptian province, and culminated around the time of the Hellenistic period (332-63 BCE)
Ancient Near East
While geography was the reason behind the development of the brilliant civilizations of both the Egyptians and the Sumerians, it was on the other side, and ironically enough, the main cause for the Hebrews’ misfortune.
Delivered to the savagery of the clans and Squeezed in a land barren and hostile between the ancient superpowers without any chance of military resistance or evolving further beyond the nomadic/unsettled structure, the Jews turned to metaphysics and began to fantasize.
In an atmosphere of despair and rage, especially after the Romans ruthlessly crushed what was seen as the last Hebrew disobedience (66-70 CE) the Jewish religious megalomaniac Messianic fantasies prospered.
The powerlessness of the Jews found an outlet in the myths and invented a glorious national history- something similar to what modern day Zionism did – avenging long years of ostracism and cruelty and dragging their enemy’s names through the dirt.
In the Bible, the Hebrew scribes unleashed the dagger of malevolence and took a stab at the superpowers of the ancient world, namely Egypt, Sumer and Babylon.Through a prism of total prejudice and deeply seated grudge the Hebrew scribes wrote, page up and page down, not what really happened in ancient times, but rather what they wished had happened.
So, in their scrolls, the Hebrew scribes depicted Babel (Babylon) as the (hot bed of vice) with its tower in ruin, where in reality it stood 90 meters high, and Egypt as the land of slavery and tyranny, devastated by Yahweh’s gruesome punishments in the aftermath of which Egypt‘s Pharaoh and his army drowned, where in fact, Egypt stood, for uninterrupted 3000 years, as one of the ancient world’s superpowers.
At that time, something quite weird, that only analytical psychology could explain, started taking place in the Hebrew Bible.Everything the Israelites desperately longed for, namely a mythology with fascinating stories like that of the Sumerians, a religion with big temples like that of the Egyptians … and yes, a piece of land they could call home like everybody else, the Hebrew scribes made damn sure it was granted to them on the pages of t