Relocating Israel and Eden

Actually, "Judah" corresponded to Upper (Southern) Egypt originally and most "diaspora Jews" originally considered Thebes of Upper Egypt as their ancestral home. This was due to Thebes being the capital of the royal court for such a long time (throughout the Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom periods). The original geography of Israel is a bit less obvious. It probably also included Upper Egypt much as the later boundaries of Israel in Palestine somewhat enveloped Judah. Although the compass orientation became a bit skewed with the transition, Judah remained more-or-less the southern kingdom and Israel the northern.

The layout of the "Thebaid" in Egypt was also somewhat different than the Jerusalem complex in Palestine. The Temple of Amun was on one side of the Nile and the "city of David/Thutmose III" on the other side at what became Medinet Habu. The city of David in the New Jerusalem of Palestine rested on the side/shoulder of the main city. Although I have always considered Jerusalem and Zion synonymous, perhaps there was a subtle difference, at least in the beginning. I don't see Zion being associated with Abydos however.

"Zion consists of the components On (Hebrew for the holy city of On/Heliopolis in Egypt) and the Hebrew word zi (meaning arid place). Literally translated, Zion appropriately becomes 'Holy City of the Desert.' "

Consistent with this, Thebes was considered to be the "Southern On".

We've had some other related discussion/dispute on this general subject. See, for example:

The "holy" geography of Egypt was also projected onto the Greek landscape.

Others have proposed that the cultural layout of Egypt was itself conceived as a projection of the heavens, and I have no problem with that basic idea ("as above, so below").

The ancients were very much into recognizing and repeating patterns. This obsession probably helped compensate for the lack/loss of analytical tools. Because of the "cut and paste" element of their culture, we can discern a highly coherent picture of the ancient royal court. Each generation of royalty modeled itself after the family of the gods (pantheon). In addition, they also modeled themselves after every preceding royal generation that had also modeled themselves after those who had preceded them (all the way back to the so-called time of the gods). It was a form of ancestor worship. Simple in principle, it eventually got very complicated, and I imagine that one job of the priesthood was to keep track of all of the relevant information about royal predecessors in order to advise new leaders on how they should act. Unfortunately, royal culture became more about "gaming" the system of divine role playing than honoring it.

That the royal family engaged in divine role playing is now undeniable. Although we still can't appreciate all of the niceties (or nasties, if you will) of this practice, it is an extremely powerful means of gaining insight into the ancient royal family. I don't think it is too much to ask to expect others to now begin working within this system of interpretation. It is a model that absolutely works and has the power to explain as well as predict. We're already seeing it it in action as we progress through the Persian Period study.

Responses To This Message

(There are no responses to this message.)