THE EGYPTIAN HISTORICAL BACKGROUND PRIOR TO CHRISTIANITY

“The Instruction for King Meri‑ka‑re, an extract from a work composed by an Egyptian Pharaoh for the benefit of his son Meri‑ka‑re during the First Intermediate Period (2280 B.C.), Manethos 9th and 10th Dynasties (2150 B.C. ‑ 2080 B.C.):

“Written on three surviving copies of the Instruction that were found (1) in the Hermitage Museum, and (2) in Leningrad in a Moscow Museum, and (3) in the Private Possession of a scholar living in Switzerland. … In the main it is concerned with right conduct and just dealings with ones fellow men. as indicated by T. W. Thacker:

“It illustrates the high moral plain that the Egyptians had already attained by the time Abraham is said to have entered Egypt, and it shows also some of the religious and ethical concepts with which the early Semitic migrants into Egypt would come in contact. It is, of course, impossible to say to what extent these early visitors were influenced by Egyptian beliefs, but they may well have played some part in shaping the moral codes of the later inhabitants of Palestine.  (emphasis added)

“The first few senences advising Meri‑ka‑re to act justly and to protect the oppressed find their parallel in the utterances of the great Eighth Century B.C. prophets of Israel:

“Thus Isaiah says: Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow (I. 17)

“Jeremiah also says: Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place (xxii. 3). In Psalm lxxxii. 3f, we read: Judge the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute. rescue the poor and needy: deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.

Fifteen hundred years earlier, anAfrican‑Egyptian pharaoh stated:

‘Do justice … oppress not the widow. … do not kill: it shall not profit thee. it is the mild man who … in a lifetime.’ [Leningrad Papyrus]

“T. W. Thacker stated:

“The second paragraph is concerned with life after death and is one of the most remarkable utterances that have survived from Ancient Egypt. … The Egyptians held that not merely a man’s soul, but also his personality and whatever other attributs go to make up the individual, lived on after death. In order that they should do so it was necessary that the physical body should be preserved in its entirety. … The Fourth Dynasty pyramids and the royal tombs hewn in the cliffs of Thebes by the rulers of the 18th Dynasty are examples of the lengths to which the Egyptian kings would go to preserve the body.

Inscriptions of the 12th Dynasty:

“Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, a Russian Aristocrat and mystic, who made pilgrimages to India and Tibet and Wrote a Compendium of Ancient Occult Knowledge, Isis Unveiled, that was published in 1877, quoted Christian Bunsen, who published Egypt’s Place in Universal History, translated from the German by Charles H. Cottrell, (1848), Volume V, p. 94), as having stated that:

The inscriptions of the 12th Dynasty are filled with ritualistic formulae. ..Extracts from the Hermetic books are found on monuments of the earliest dynasties and in those of the 12th dynasty portions of an earlier ritual are by no means uncommon.

To feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, bury the dead … formed the first duty of a pious man.” The doctrine of the ‘transmigration of the soul’ is as old as this period. [This inscription is in the British Museum]

In The Book of the Secrets of Enoch, Chapter IX, in The Forgotten Books of Eden (Bell Publishing Company:new York), 1981, translated from manuscripts of the Pseudepigraphal group, the following was quoted:

‘This place, O Enoch, is prepared for the righteous, who endure all manner of offense from those that exasperate their souls, who avert their eyes from iniquity, and make righteous judgment, and give bread to the hungering, and cover the naked with clothing, and raise up the fallen, and help injured orphans, and who walk without fault before the face of the lord, and serve him alone, and for them is prepared this place for eternal inheritance.’

“The majority of the chapters in The Forgotten Books Of Eden: Lost Books Of The Old Testament were ascribed to biblical personalities far more ancient than the writings themselves and because of this falsely ascribed authorship became known as Pseudepigrapha, and were barred from biblical sanctity and relegated to centuries of esoteric obscurity.

“This more recent publication translates these books from ancient texts augmented by modern archaeological findingsThese books were said to have been less in keeping with prevailing thought, or incompatible with popular tradition. It was indicated that most of the books were written between 200 B.C. and 100 A.D., a period long after the lifetimes of the alleged authors.

“The Book of the Secrets of Enoch” was translated from manuscripts found in Russia and Serbia and preserved only in Slavonic, and the origin of its present form was discovered to have been somewhere about the beginning of the Christian era.  The editors state that its final editor was a Greek and the place of its composition was in Egypt in Africa. The editors also indicate that though the knowledge that such a book ever existed had been lost for probably 1200 years, it had been used by both Christian and heretic in the early centuries.

The Middle Kingdom pharaohs promoted the welfare of the downtrodden: one of them claimed:

I gave to the destitute and brought up the orphan. I caused him who was nothing to reach [his goal], like him who was [somebody].’ [Footnote: John A. Wilson, Trans., The Burden of Egypt (University of Chicago Press: Chicago), 1951 in Civilization past & Present (1987]

Egypt’s oldest literature is the Pyramid Texts, a body of religious writing found inscribed on the walls of the burial chambers of the Old Kingdom Pharaohs. … the troubled life that followed the collapse of the Old Kingdom produced the highly personal literature of the First Intermediate Period and Middle Kingdom. It contains protests against the ills of the day, demands for social justice, and praise for the romantic excitements of wine, women, and song as a means of forgetting misery.

“A classic of Egyptian literature is Akhenaton’s (1369‑1353) “Hymn to the Sun,” which is similar in spirit to Psalm 104 in the Old Testament (‘O Lord, how manifold are thy works’!).  A few lines indicate its lyric beauty and its conception of one omnipotent and beneficent Creator:

‘Thy dawning is beautiful in the horizon of the sky,

O Living Aton, beginning of life!

How maniford are Thy works!

They are hidden before men,

O sole God, beside whom there is no other,

Thou didst create the Earth according to thy heart

While thou wast alone.’

[Footnote: “Quoted in J. H. Breasted, The Dawn of Conscience (Charles Scribners Sons: New York), 1939, p. 284.”]

“The Pharaohs of the Eighteenth Dynasty reunited Egypt and founded the New Kingdom, made Palestine the nucleus of an Egyptian empire in Western Asia.

Thutmose III (1490 B.c. ‑ 1436 B.C.) … This “Napoleon of Egypt” led his professional standing army on 17 campaigns into Syria, where he set up his boundary markers on the banks of the EuphratesThe children of vassal princes were taken as hostages and educated in Egyptian style, at the court of the Egyptian emperor, in order to teach them Egyptian manners and tastes and to assimilate them to pharaonic culture and civilization.”

 

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About Harold L Carter

Bachelor of Science, Columbia University Masters degree, Ohio State University Undergraduate National Officer, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Eastern Asst Vice President, when a student at Columbia University Profile Photograph: Mom & Me, when I was a graduate student
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