The Egyptian God Adam

Today I stumbled upon an Egyptian god I’d never heard of before, and yet he seems quite familiar. This god is named Atum. According to Egyptian legend he is the creator, “the deities and all things being made of his flesh.” He is the father of Shu and Tefnut. Atum phonetically sounds a lot like Adam. Could Shu refer to Seth? The Wikipedia article on Atum states, “Atum’s cult centred on the city of Heliopolis.” This is quite fascinating since Joseph of Egypt’s wife Asenath was “the daughter of Potipherah priest of On” (Genesis 41:45). On is another name for the city of Heliopolis. If this Atum is Adam, then maybe Joseph’s wife was also a Hebrew and believed in the same god that Joseph did.

Atum is one of the most important and frequently mentioned deities from earliest times, as evidenced by his prominence in the Pyramid Texts, where he is portrayed as both a creator and father to the king. He is usually depicted as a man wearing either the royal head-cloth or the dual white and red crown of Upper Egypt, and Lower Egypt, reinforcing his connection with kingship.” The Egyptian God Atum

Apparently Atum is a more noteworthy god than our culture gives him credit for. What I find even more interesting is that Atum wears both a red and white crown. I think this symbolism has a more profound meaning than the author of the Wikipedia article leads us to believe. If red represents the flesh and white represents the spirit, then this crown would suggest that the God Atum is a resurrected being, his flesh having been quickened by the spirit. Why would the Egyptians believe that Adam is the creator of mankind and that he also is a resurrected god? Was Brigham Young a reincarnated Egyptian priest? Ok, ok, I’m being a bit facetious, but you get my point. Somehow early Mormon teachings about Adam being God match up with the beliefs of the ancient Egyptian religion.

The Egyptian Sceptre

This excerpt can be found on the Sceptre Wikipedia page under the “Antiquity” section:

“The was and other types of staffs were a sign of authority in Ancient Egypt, for which reason they are often described as “sceptres” even if they are full-length staffs. … The staff with the longest history seems to be the heqa-sceptre, sometimes described as the shepherd’s crook.” Heqa-sceptre

Doesn’t it seem strange that a largely agricultural culture like Egypt would use a shepherd’s staff as a symbol of power and authority? Might it be that the pastoral Hebrews assumed control of Egypt at some point in their early history and this is where the Egyptian culture adopted this symbol of power? Recall the rod of Aaron and the duel between him and the pharaoh of his day.

One other symbol that is prominent in Egyptian imagery is the crown. The following can be found under the section titled “Crowns and headdresses” on the Pharoah Wikipedia page:

“The red crown of Lower Egypt – the Deshret crown – dates back to pre-dynastic times. A red crown has been found on a pottery shard from Naqada, and later king Narmer is shown wearing the red crown on both the Narmer macehead and the Narmer palette. Alternatively, the red crown is meant to symbolize the womb, placenta.

The white crown of Upper Egypt – the Hedjet crown – is shown on the Qustul incense burner which dates to the pre-dynastic period. Later, King Scorpion was depicted wearing the white crown, as was Narmer. Alternatively, the white crown depicts a gland in the human body, the thymus.”

The symbology here is quite rich. The red placenta symbolizes mortal birth while the white thymus symbolizes spiritual birth. This matches in nicely with the theory that the Tree of Good and Evil represents the physical realm and the Tree of Life the spiritual realm. The fact that the same Pharaoh can wear the different crowns implies that he can move from the physical realm into the spiritual (and vice versa). This is yet another evidence for the influence of Hebrew culture on ancient Egyptian culture. This brings up the question, which Hebrew leader caused the Egyptians to adopt Hebrew symbolism? Was it Moses or Aaron? Or was it Abraham? Maybe Noah?

Quite remarkably the symbolism of the crown and the sceptre have been carried down to our day and age.

Queen Elizabeth II Pope Benedict XVI
Queen Elizabeth II wearing the crown and holding the sceptre. Pope Benedict XVI with his crown and sceptre.

Are the Catholics borrowing symbology from Egypt or do both the Catholics and Egyptians trace their symbology back to the Hebrews?

Families Without Fathers

I lost my father at the age of two. He died prematurely of a stroke. As a teenager I came to conclude that maybe fathers didn’t play all that important role in a family, after all I turned out ok without one, didn’t I? It wasn’t until my mid-20s when I realized how the lack of a father had negatively impacted my development into manhood. Even though, like a normal working-class teenager, I began working entry level jobs at the age of 16, I never found any job I could stay with for more than a year. It wasn’t that I wasn’t a hard worker. Probably every employer I had would tell you that I was. I just was easily bored and after I had mastered a job, I felt no inclination to continue and would bail at the earliest opportunity. Needless to say, this sort of job hopping didn’t lay a good foundation for a solid career later. So I drifted and drifted like a boat without an oar. In retrospect, I wonder how many years of my life could have been saved if I had a father to point out to me the shortsightedness of my thinking (these kind of “harsh” talks aren’t consistent with the role of mothers). But it wasn’t just my career that could have used a father, but my relationships as well. Even though I’d been taught by my mother to treat young ladies respectfully, I didn’t have a concrete example, having never seen any husband/wife interactions between my parents. Not having a role model to pattern my behavior after, I behaved awkwardly and often ungentlemanly towards several young ladies. Not that fathers would make all interactions between boys and girls go smoothly, but they do at least give the boys examples of how to behave, which is a lot more than what I had. Again, I was a boat without an oar. Maybe you can now see why I firmly believe that fathers are of the utmost importance in the development of sons (not having been a daughter, I cannot comment on that with any degree of experience).

Not having a father and aspiring to be one, I began looking for a role model. Naturally as a Christian, the first character I look to for guidance is Jesus, he being the perfect example for us all.  Surely if “the family” is as important as the LDS church claims it to be, then Jesus would give us a perfect example of what it is to be a father. And yet if you search for any hint of how Jesus behaved towards his wife and children, you will find absolutely nothing. Why is this? Didn’t Jesus have a wife and children? If not, doesn’t this undermine the LDS claim that the family unit is central to eternal happiness? If Jesus didn’t have a need for a family, why do we? Very puzzling.

Two Births and Three Baptisms

There are times when I’m reading a blog article (or listening to a talk) when I struggle to make it to the end, not because of boredom, but due to inspiration overload. This is what happened to me as I was reading an article titled “The Importance of Birth” written by “Heather@Women in the Scriptures”. I’d like to elaborate on a few ideas discussed in this article. I encourage you to read it before continuing.

First off, the idea that the “tree of knowledge of good and evil” and the “tree of life” are representative of physical birth (feminine/yin) and spiritual birth (masculine/yang) was totally new to me, but it really resonates as truth. I found it interesting that it was a choice: “…nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee;” (Moses 3:17). In the premortal life, we chose to be born of the flesh (although some didn’t) and we now have the choice to be “born again” of the spirit. While studying the topic of being born again in the New Testament awhile back I noticed that a trinity was alluded to; a trinity that both physical birth and spiritual birth have in common: water, spirit/air, and blood/fire. This trinity is confirmed more specifically in the Book of Moses:

“That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory;”
(Moses 6:59)

This passage appears to be comparing the stages of physical birth to the stages of spiritual birth. With that in mind, let’s examine each stage.

This first stage in the spiritual birth would be the baptism by immersion in water, whereas its physical counterpart would be the time referred to as when an expecting mother’s “water breaks.”

The Baptism of Jesus

In the spiritual birth this happens when a person receives the gift of the Holy Ghost. For brevity’s sake I’ll refer you to this excellent talk given by Elder Bednar a few years back. Physically speaking this would be the labored breathing period a woman endures during contractions. Contractions usually precede the breaking of water and in a similar manner the Holy Spirit guides a person to the gospel long before they are baptized or have hands laid on their heads to receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. I’m told that the labored breathing not only helps to calm the mother, but also the child. The Holy Ghost plays this role in a person’s life as they change their lives to conform to God’s laws. It reassures them that the path they are on is correct, even if it is a painful one.

The final stage is physically the time when the mother pushes the baby out. It is the most painful of the stages and bloodiest. During mortal birth it is a baptism of blood. During our spiritual birth it will be a baptism of fire. Joseph Smith stated, “[A]ll will be raised by the power of God, having spirit in their bodies, and not blood.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 199). The baptism of fire is the moment of resurrection, when our mortal bodies are transformed into spiritual bodies. The mortal blood is replaced by the immortal spirit or fire. This is a time of great pain, but immediately followed by a period of great joy and peace.

Heather made reference to two veils that all mankind must pass through in order to receive a resurrected body. The first veil refers to the first physical birth and the second veil to the second spiritual birth. She went on say that women have stewardship over the first and men have stewardship over the second. I agree. Previously I had come to conclude that God has given men and women different fields of labor and he has crafted each specifically for their field. He gave women the field of child bearing and raising. To men he gave the field of missionary work and bringing rebellious souls to God. Both are challenging, even life-threatening fields and it takes great faith to work in either of them. However, these difficult paths that saints are called to walk are the contractions of spiritual birth and will lead to the greatest joy for those who embark and endure to the end. May we all find joy in our righteous labors.

In Pursuit of Righteousness

Wisdom comes only when you stop looking for it and start living the life the Creator intended for you. (Hopi saying)

“Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it;”
(Joseph Smith, Jr., Documentary History of the Church, 5:134-5)

“And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness.”
(2 Nephi 2:13)

“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
(Matthew 6:31-33)

Man was designed to be happy. However, “if there be no righteousness there be no happiness.” Therefore if man is ever to be happy, he must first learn to be righteous. Righteousness is a big word and what it entails is even bigger.

“There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.”
(D&C 130:20-21)

You might get the impression that God allows us to pick and choose which laws we would like to obey and blesses us accordingly. However, what isn’t stated here is that there is also a cursing attached to every law for disobedience.

“And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”
(Luke 12:48)

Obviously willful disobedience will be more severely punished than ignorant disobedience, but even the ignorant receive some form of punishment. Remaining ignorant isn’t an option for those seeking happiness, because by not knowing the law they not only won’t be blessed, but they will be cursed to some degree as well. Throughout time, God has preserved his written law so that man would always have access to the laws and the blessings/cursings attached. If man chooses to remain ignorant of those laws, he bars himself from the happiness found in obedience.