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Home » Biblical Studies » Ancient Near East Studies » Parallelism between “The Hymn to Aten” and Psalm 104

Parallelism between “The Hymn to Aten” and Psalm 104



Hymn to Aten



 Psalm 104

Sole God beside whom there is none! YHWH my God you are very great.


How many are your deeds … You made the earth as you wished, you alone, All peoples, herds, and flocks.


YHWH, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.


When you set in western lightland, Earth is in darkness as if in death    You make darkness, and it is night, when all the animals of the forest come creeping out.


Every lion comes from its den  


The young lions roar for their prey .. when the sun rises, they withdraw, and lie down in their dens.


When you have dawned they live, When you set they die;  

When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die




You set every man in his place, You supply their needs; Everyone has his food.


These all look to you to give them their food in due season.
The entire land sets out to work  

People go out to their work and to their labor until the evening


The fish in the river dart before you, Your rays are in the midst of the sea. Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there

Birds fly from their nests, Their wings greeting your ka


By the streams the birds of the air have their habitation; they sing among the branches

He makes waves on the mountain like the sea, To drench their fields and their towns.   

You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills … The trees of YHWH are watered abundantly



The Hymn to the Aten, supposedly composed by the king, Akhenaten, shows undoubted similarities to Psalm 104.

  1. Both the hymn and Akhenaten’s repeated statements to the effect that Aten was the one true god have been used by many scholars (including Freud) to argue that the religion of the Amarna period was a precursor to the Judaeo-Christian-Islamic monotheism
  2. Careful analysis of the relevant texts, however, indicates that, unlike the God of the OT, the Aten was an essentially isolated and amoral deity who could be approached only via the Egyptian king.
  3. The similarities b/w the Hymn to Aten and Psalm 104 are perhaps better explained in terms of the common literary tradition of ancient Egypt and Israel.





  1. peskildsen says:

    I recommend the writings of Egyptologist David Rohl, and specifically with regards to this page, “From Eden to Exile”, chapter 15. Unfortunately it’s only available in hard copy. Rohl’s “New Chronology” of Egyptian history perfectly explains the linkage between David’s psalm and Akhenaten’s hymn by removing the centuries in time that separated the two men. Rohl’s NC is not yet widely accepted, but I believe it will be. It’s certainly worth consideration by a group such as this.

  2. Paul says:

    Great recommendation regarding David Rohl’s work. He has it figured out. Akhenaten and David were contemporaries. The truth of his theories will surely be accepted in time.

  3. Yahul Wagoni says:

    The new chronology puts Ahknaten before Moses. When Moses was still a prince in Egypt, did he meet up with one of the hidden priests of the now forbidden monotheistic god? Endless speculation

  4. Scotttcast says:

    Taking Thutmoses III as the Exodus Pharaoh also causes Akhenaten and his likely composition of the Hymn to Aten to be contemporary to David and Psalm 104… Plus the added bonus of WHY Akhenaten became monotheist!

  5. Scotttcast says:

    As for David Rohl’s work… I have found the following videos to be excellent synopses of his work.

    Presentation with many slides and photos, Rameses II being 2 Chronicles 12’s Shishak –

    Pharaohs & Kings documentary series:
    1) Introduction to Rohl’s redating reasons –
    2) Rameses II as Shishak, Solomonic archaeology –
    3) Joseph, Saul and the Exodus in Egyptian archaeology –

    Rohl extending his work to the earlier parts of Genesis –

    Podcast interview with Rohl –

    And finally, I learnt about the (self proclaimed agnostic) Rohl’s work through this article –

  6. […] Parallelism between “The Hymn to Aten” and Psalm 104 […]

  7. Samuel Troy says:

    Psalm 104 is one of the most beautiful psalms in the bible, and it is important to note that it references the gods of at least two neighbouring cultures: Aten, as we have just seen, and the storm god who vanquishes the sea, who is referenced in verses 1-18. However, having referenced these other gods, the writer of the psalm does something very special: he puts the Lord God, YHWH, above these gods, saying that it is the LORD who ‘makes darkness’, not Aten, and the LORD who has ‘made the moon’, not Aten, and that ‘the sun knows the time for its setting’ under the control of the God of Israel, ie. Aten is below YHWH. This Psalm consciously subverts the neighbouring pagan religions, and puts God above them.

    Moreover, power-hungry monarchs do not have a good record of having original ideas: there is a good case that simply inventing a religion would have been much too risky for Akhenaten, the Pharaoh who created Aten – people genuinely believed in polytheism. There would have had have been a pre-existing religion that there were large numbers of followers of in order to make it worthwhile him switching to a ‘new’ religion. Maybe Judaism or a monotheistic Egyptian cult? We have examples of similar situations throughout history, from (arguably) Constantine hijacking the truth of Christianity for his own political ends, to Ivan the Terrible of Russia converting to Orthodox Christianity. It is probable that Judaism is older than Aten, so this may well be yet another example of power-hungry rulers seizing upon the ‘remarkable’ plausibility of Judeo-Christian religions for their own ends.

    It shows how beautiful and wonderful the faith of Israel is that they can subvert this subversion of the truth.

  8. Eugene says:

    One must remember that even the Bible says that Moshe (Moses) was trained in all the ways of the Egyptians and not the other way around.

    Before Moshe went to Mt. Sinai to receive the supposed 10 commandments he was taught the Egyptian negative confessions or 42 laws of Ma’at which more than parallel the 10 commandments.

    Truth sometime is difficult to swallow, but is always better than lies which mislead people.

    This is no different than the comic books of Marvel and DC whose writer’s use the ancient Egyptian world for ideas for some of their characters.

  9. Neil says:

    ‘tut’moses,tut= twt = dvd = david, tutmoses 3 being the only king to ever rule from the nile to the euphrates. jacob = sumerian yakub, ‘ladder’, and = the ‘dream stelle’ of tutmoses 4, grandson of tutmoses 3 and grandfather of akhenaten . joseph = yuyu, grandfather of akhenaten and prime minister of egypt, moses being contemporary with akhenaten

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