JEWS WEREN’T THE FIRST people on record to pitch the “one God” idea, some scholars say.
Egyptians were. At least they are the first with archaeological evidence to back them up.
About one hundred years before many Bible experts say Moses led the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt, an Egyptian king shocked his nation by declaring that all the Egyptian gods but one were fakes.
The king was Pharaoh Akhenaten (AH ken AH ten). He ruled for 17 years, from about 1353 BC until he died in about 1336 BC.
Scholars debate when Moses lived. And the timing is pretty important.
- 1200s BC. Experts drawing mainly on archaeological evidence – such as burned-out cities in what is now Israel – say Moses led the exodus in about 1250 BC.
- 1400s BC. Others relying more on timelines reported in the Bible say Moses lived about 100 years before Akhenaten, in the 1400s BC.
- 1300s BC. Jewish rabbis in ancient times said Moses lived at the same time as the pharaoh: born 1391 BC, died 120 years later, in 1271 BC.
If the rabbis were right, Akhenaten was the pharaoh who ran Moses out of Egypt “when Moses was forty years old” (Acts 7:7). That would have been in 1351 BC, just a couple years into the new king’s reign.
Akhenaten told his people that the one and only god was Aten – the sun god that Egyptians used to know as Ra or Re.
Akhenaten also said he was the god’s son.
Some curious readers of the Bible connected some dots to form a picture that would make many Jews and Christians squirm.
Sigmund Freud loved ancient history and archaeology. He even wrote a book arguing that Jews didn’t get their idea of God from Abraham. Writing in Moses and Monotheism, he said they got it from Egypt’s belief in Aten.
Most Jews and Christians were not impressed, and were inclined to think that the father of psychoanalysis needed his head examined.
People of the Book generally trust the stories in their sacred Book. They figure that in time, archaeologists will catch up with them, after they find some solid evidence that mentions a rich herder named Abraham who seemed pretty doggone convinced that the only god who was really a god was God.
For more about Moses
- Moses takes the scenic route
- Who’s Who & Where’s Where in the Bible 2.0, pages 322-328
- Complete Guide to the Bible, pages 27-60
- A Quick Guided Tour Through the Bible, pages 39-54
- A working grunt’s Bible song
Bible Gateway Blogger