front of the towering golden sandstone entrance to the temple of Edfu stands an
granite statue of a falcon, 12-feet tall, representing
Sculpted into Horus' chest is a small figure of Ptolemy.
buttress his political legitimacy, the
alien neo-pharaoh carved himself into the stone of a powerful god.
The Pharaoh of Egypt had been
playing this game for 5,000 years.
Three millenniums before the
birth of Jesus of
Nazareth descended gods, the Pharaohs, had already built a unified kingdom
down the valley of the Nile.
The Pharaohs presented themselves as
children and intimates of the
sun god Ra, of Isis and Osiris
and of their divine offspring - Horus.
Ra, the sun god, went through a
daily cycle of death and rebirth, dying at the end of each day and being reborn
in the morning as Ra-Horakhty or Horus, and it was through this cycle that the
blessed dead traveled so as to enjoy rebirth along with the Sun.
deities in the Mediterranean region were
interchangeable in whole or in
part for the deities of like nature or
kind of trade partners due
to the large movement of trade
Over the centuries, as the politics changed, there were deity
mergers, hostile deity takeovers and
synthetic blending of religious
Luxor luminaries Amun and Ra eventually merged to
become Amun-Ra, a strong new
Ptolemy I Soter
declares himself Pharaoh of Egypt and creates a powerful Hellenistic dynasty
that rules an area stretching from southern
Syria to Cyrene and south to
Ptolemy founds the 'museum' of Alexandria within the precincts of
the Catechetical School of Alexandria and installs the
Ancient temples added the prefix of the Mystery to the
begining of the word that described the thought form the temple followed - "Serapeum", "Mithraeum".
term harkens back to the Muses
and is museum.
to the Serapeum, within the
Catechetical School, the
Library of Alexandria contains between two hundred thousands and half
million of books and manuscripts.
The Ptolemaic successors of
Alexander III of
Macedonia promoted Serapis,
a deliberate blending of gods
worshiped by the tribes surrounding the Mediterranean with the most well
known Greek and Roman gods.
"Isis was part of a sacred triad.
The Egyptians deified
'emanations' of the supreme, unknowable godhead.
reigned for forty centuries, an
Eternal Evolving Godhead.
Crucially, the Egyptian priests linked the
gods directly to their ruling kings:
'Throughout the 4000
years of Egyptian history every Pharaoh was
the incarnation of the youthful Horus, and therefore the son of Isis, the
Goddess Mother who had suckled and reared him.
At death ... as Osiris he
held sway over 'Those Yonder' in the shadowy kingdom of the dead.' R. E.
Witt (Isis in the Ancient World, p15)
Thus the 'Father' and
'Son' were inseparable, were of 'one essence,' the same
The pharaohs stepped into the trinity on
Earth (as Horus) and became the heavenly element (as Osiris) after death.
In the endless cycle Isis
functioned as sister, wife and mother, a sort of 'ḦṍḸẙ ṦṕḯṝḭṰ',
keeping the cycle flowing." - Kenneth Humphreys
At the Greco-Roman temple of
Philae, you see a mother-and-child image sculpted on the walls of the
sanctuary, but the face of the mother has been chiseled away.
Christian time, Isis was rebranded Mary, turning
287 BC Perhaps the most consequential of
the religious developments that took place in the Hellenistic period were the
dramatic growth of Judaism in the Greek-speaking world, and in Judaea itself
the beginnings of both Pharisaic and
Ptolemy I Soter of Egypt gave a royal welcome to the
Seventy Sages from the Land of
Israel whom he invited to
Alexandria to translate
the Law of Moses into the Greek language.
At the feast, the Sages
of Israel were seated at a separate table on which Kosher food was served for
The feast lasted for seven days, and each day the King asked the
Sages of Israel, in turn, one question each.
Turning to the oldest one
among them, he asked, "What would your Torah advise the King to do so the years
of his reign be peaceful and
The Sage replied, "The King should reign with justice. He
should know that there is a supreme King of kings over all the world, Who
reigns with justice and mercy, and every king should be a servant to Him."
The King turned to the next Sage and asked him, "How can man find
happiness in his life?"
Replied the Sage, "Let man remember that
G-d knows everything he does,
sees or thinks. Let him be kind and just and worship G-d."
the third Sage the King asked, "How should a man win friends?"
replied, "Let him be a friend to others, always trying to do somebody a favor
without expecting anything in return, just as G-d is kind to all His creatures,
without demanding a reward."
To the fourth Sage the King addressed the
following question, "What should the King do to those who find fault with his
The Sage replied, "Let the King be patient and forgiving.
Even in his anger he should not be harsh in his judgment and show mercy always.
Then his subjects will speak well of the King."
It was the turn of the
fifth Sage to answer the following question: "How should the King deal with
"Let him seek peace always, for peace is stronger than all
armies and weapons," was the reply.
"Would not the enemies think that
this is a sign of the King's weakness?" asked the King of the sixth Sage.
"While seeking peace always, the King should not neglect his army. He
must be ready to beat off any enemy attack," was the reply.
now turned to the seventh Sage and asked him, "What is the greatest treasure in
The Sage replied, "The knowledge of G-d; to know that G-d
is the Master of the world and the Source of All Life and All
The Ptolemies, like the Persian kings from the sixth to the late
fourth century BC, were happy to put the local government of Judaea in the
hands of the High Priest at
the Jerusalem temple and the Sanhedrin.
The Jewish supreme court,
consisting of 71 rabbis, was called the Sanhedrin ha-Gadol.
August 29, 30 BC Caesarion, Ptolemy XV, executed on the orders
With the fall of the Ptolemaic Kingdom, Egypt is made into
a Roman colony, marking the end of the Hellenistic age.
January 27 BC Octavian, having amassed constitutional power
for the new Egyptian colony, renames himself Augustus ('the Revered') and
establishes himself as the first Roman emperor, inaugurating the Principate era
of the Roman Empire.
"Politics, seen from this perspective
of 5,000 years of Egyptian history, is something very different from what you
find in American
It's not about the installation of this or that
logically and legally constructed political system, based on this or that
rulers borrowing, blending and
merging gods, ideologies and legal systems, adapting to internal and external
forces, mixing coercion and patronage, sharing some of the spoils where
necessary, but always with the goal of
maximizing their own power and wealth and hanging on to it for as long possible
- for yourself, and your children, and your children's children.
Those who take the legitimating religion or ideology too seriously - be
it Osirisism or socialism -
are missing the point. The gods are continually morphing;
what endures over the
millenniums is men's lust for power and wealth and their vain quest for
immortality." - Timothy Garton Ash
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American social mores and values have declined precipitously over
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