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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.

 

 

 


2 Comments

  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.

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