Akhenaten's Hymn to Aten

Akhenaten's Hymn to Aten

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A i a w b p f m n r h H x X z s S o k g t T d D
A i a w b p f m n r h H x X z s S o k g t T d D

Written Approximately 1300 B.C. very near the hypothesized time of the Exodus.  Translation by John L. Foster, taken from Ancient Egyptian Literature, An Anthology University of Texas Press.  The use of this translation is only temporary until I can get a hold of the glyphs so as to translate it myself.

Akhenaten's Hymn to the Sun Biblical and LDS parallels commentary

Let your holy Light shine from the height of heaven,
     O living Aton,
          source of all life!
From estern horizon risen and streaming,
     you have flooded the world with your beauty.
You are majestic, awesome, bedazzling, exalted,
          overlord over all earth,
     yet your rays, they touch lightly, compass the lands
          to the limits of all your creation.
There in the Sun, you reach to the farthest of those
     you would gather in for your Son,
          whom you love;

Though you are far, your light is wide upon earth;
     and you shine in the faces of all
          who turn to follow your journeying.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:17-16)

The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.  (John 3:35)

33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.  Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?  If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;  Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? (John 10:33-36)

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. (1 Jn. 4:9)

... ye shall call upon the Father in my name that he will bless the church for my [the Son of God's] sake. (3 Ne. 27:7)

... Thou hast turned away thy judgments because of thy Son. (Alma 33:13)

... Thou art angry, O Lord, with this people, because they will not understand thy mercies which thou hast bestowed upon them because of thy Son.  (Alma 33:16)
Both Jesus and Akhenaten made claims of kingship, and the notion of the King as a son of God was common in the ancient world.  Both Jesus Christ and Akhenaten claimed to be sons of God, and they claimed that God granted mercy upon their followers for the sake God's love for His son.  

When you sink to rest below western horizon
     earth lies in darkness like death,
Sleepers are still in bedchambers, heads veiled,
     eye cannot spy a companion;
All their goods could be stolen away,
     heads heavy there, and they never knowing!
Lions come out from the deeps of their caves,
     snakes bite and sting;
Darkness muffles, and earth is silent
     he who created all things lies low in his tomb.

Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth. (Isa. 40:26)

... God, who created all things by Jesus Christ... (Eph. 3:9)

And when his disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb (Mark 6:29)
To the Egyptians the sun died at night, and was reborn every morning.  Aten, the symbol of the sun, is here depicted as laying low in his tomb during the night, to be brought back to life the next morning.


Earth-dawning mounts the horizon,
     glows in the sun-disk as day:
You drive away darkness, offer your arrows of shining,
     and the Two Lands are lively with morningsong.
Sun's children awaken and stand,
     for you, golden light, have upraised the sleepers;
Bathed are their bodies, who dress in clean linen,
     their arms held high to praise your Return.
Across the face of the earth
     they go to their crafts and professions.
In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.... for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door.... And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.  (Matt. 28:1-6)

And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun... (Mark 16:2)

For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (Matt. 24:27)
Because the sun died every night, the Egyptians felt that its rising was a major symbol of rebirth.  Sleep then became the symbol of sleep, and just as the sleeper awakes in the morning, so the dead shall awake with the dawn.

In that context it is interesting to note that Jesus Christ was resurrected with the rising of the sun.

The concept of the sun returning in the morning from the east is also used as a symbol of the second coming when Jesus will come from the east.

The washing, clothing, and raising of the arms above the head are also interesting images common to the early Christians.

The herds are at peace in their pastures,
     trees and the vegetation grow green;
Birds start from their nests,
     wings wide spread to worship your Person;
Small beasts frisk and gambol, and all
     who mount into flight or settle to rest
          live, once you have shone upon them
Ships float downstream or sail for the south,
     each path lies open because of your rising;
Rish in the River leap in your sight,
     and your rays strike deep in the Great Green Sea
For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. (Acts 17:28)  

It is you [who] create the new creature in Woman,
     shape the life-giving drops into Man,
Foster the son in the womb of his mother,
     soothe him, ending his tears;
Nurse through the long generations of women
          to those given Air,
     you ensure that your handiwork prosper.
When the new one descends from the womb
     to draw breath the day of his birth,
You open his mouth, you shape his nature,
     and you supply all his necessities.

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Gen. 2:7)
The opening of the mouth was a ritual the Egyptians performed in order to animate the inanimate, either an idol or a deity, or the mummy of a deceased individual.  The mouth is opened in order to receive the breath of life.

Hark to the chick in the egg,
          he who speaks in the shell!
     You give him air within
          to save and prosper him;
And you have allotted to him his set time
     before the shell shall be broken;
Then out from the egg he comes,
          from the egg to peep at his natal hour!
     And up on his own two feet goes he
          when at last he struts forth therefrom.

How various is the world you have created,
     each thing mysterious, sacred to sight,
O sole God,
     beside whom is no other!

You fashioned earth to your heart's desire,
     while you were still alone,
Filled it with man and the family of creatures,
     each kind on the ground, those who go upon feet,
          he on high soaring on wings,
The far lands of Khor and Kush,
     and the rich Black Land of Egypt.
Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. (Isa. 44:6) Akhenaten's religious reforms in Egypt are the first recorded instance of monotheism in historic record.  Judaism is perhaps most known for its strict monotheism.

And you place each one in his proper station,
     where you minister to his needs;
Each has his portions of food,
     and the years of life are reckoned him,
Tongues are divided by words, 
     natures made diverse as well,
Even men's skins are different
     that you might distinguish the nations.
Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain with thee; for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever. (D&C 122:9)  

You make Hapy, the Nile, stream through the underworld,
     and bring him, with whatever fullness you will,
To preserve and nourish the People
     in the same skilled way you fashion them.
You are Lord of each one,
     who wearies himself in their service,
Yet Lord of all earth, who shines for them all,
     Sun-disk of day, holy Light!
All of the far foreign contries--
     you are the cause they live,
For you have put a Nile in the sky
     that he might descend upon them in rain--

He makes waves on the very mountains
     like waves on the Great Green Sea
          to water their fields and their villages.
7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. (Gen. 1:7)

In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. (Gen. 7:11)
Both the Egyptian and the Israelite cosmology consisted of a belief that the blue sky was actually composed of water.  To the Egyptians this was a "Nile in the sky" along which the sun sailed in a holy boat. The Israelites and Canaanites believed that there were "windows" in heaven which, when opened, allowed rain to descend upon the earth.  

How splendidly ordered are they,
your purposes for this world,
     O Lord of Eternity, Hapy in heaven!
Although you belong to the distant peoples,
     to the small, shy beasts
          who travel the deserts and uplands,
Yet Hapy, he comes from Below
     for the dear Land of Egypt as well.
And your Sunlight nurses each field and meadow:
     when you shine, they live,
          they grow sturdy and prosper through you.
You set seasons to let the world flower and flourish--
     winter to rest and refresh it,
          the hot blast of summer to ripen;
And you have made heaven far off
     in order to shine down therefrom,
          in order to watch over all your creation.

The eternal God is thy refuge... (Deut. 33:27)

These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, (Gen. 2:4)

You are the One God,
     shining forth from your possible incarnations
          as Aton, the Living Sun,
Revealed like a king in glory, risen in light, 
     now distant, now bending nearby.
You create the numberless things of this world
          from yourself, who are One alone--
     cities, towns, fields, the roadway, the River;
And each eye looks back and beholds you
     to learn from the day's light perfection.
O God, you are in the Sun disk of Day,
     Over-Seer of all creation
          --your legacy
     passed on to all who shall every be;
For you fashioned their sight, who perceive your universe,
     that they praise with one voice
          all your labors.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: (Deut. 6:4)

And when ye saw that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came against you, ye said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when the LORD your God was your king. (1 Sam. 12:12)

"Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.  Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle." (Ps. 24:7-9)

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.  For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. (Isa. 60:1-2)

And you are in my heart;
     there is no other who truly knows you
          but for your son, Akhenaten.

May you make him wise with your inmost counsels,
          wise with your power,
     that earth may aspire to your godhead,
          its creatures fine as the day you made them.
Once you rose into shining, they lived;
     when you sink to rest, they shall die.
For it is you who are Time itself,
     the span of the world;
          life is by means of you.

Eyes are filled with beauty
     until you go to your rest;
All work is laid aside
     as you sink down the western horizon.

Then, Shine reborn!  Rise splendidly!
     my Lord, let life thrive for the King
Who has kept peace with your every footstep
     since you first measured ground for the world.
Lift up the creatures of earth for your Son
     who came forth from your Body of Fire!
For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; (John 5:26)

Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; (Job 38:4-6)
The connection between kingship and being a son of God is expressed again, as well as the concepts of arising, rebirth, and the giving of life, with God as the ultimate source of such life, given to men through His Son.

Interestingly both traditions describe God measuring the earth, and both use building analogies to describe God's creative activities.