Posted by: Nito | January 7, 2012

The Role of the Chosen People – Part 1 (In Egypt)

The Old Testament is a story about God’s special project. By choosing a particular man with good qualities (i.e. Abraham) and grooming his descendants (i.e. Hebrews) into a chosen nation, God aimed to address a particular need on the Earth. He wanted to create a nation (i.e. Israel) of righteous and holy people (see Leviticus 11:45) that would serve as an example to all other nations on the planet.

He had never before done such a thing (see Exodus 34:10-16 and Deuteronomy 4:32-35) and this was so important that He was ready to clean up a particular portion of the Earth (i.e. the “Promised Land”) to make a perfect stage for this new project. The Promised Land was strategically located at the Mediterranean Sea, the birthplace of the western civilization, and “was right in the heart of the ancient world and on the borders of three gigantic land masses, Asia, Africa and Europe. Every great kingdom around them, from the north, south, east and west, along with their conquering monarchs would be confronted with Israel and learn about their people, their laws and the holy Oracles of the One whose kingdom will never pass away” (see “Israel – The Center of the World“).

So, what was this project about? The Exodus from Egypt and the establishment of the Kingdom of Israel in the middle of polytheistic landscape indicated God’s intention to completely root out all polytheistic religions.  Bible tells us that 430 years have passed between the time God made a covenant with Abram (i.e. Abraham) until He took Hebrews out of Egypt (i.e. when Exodus happened). Before the Exodus, Hebrews lived in Egypt  for about half of that time (see the detailed discussion here).

If we take that Exodus happened during the reign of Ramesses II, this would mean that Hebrews probably came into Egypt during the reign of Amenhotep II or Thutmose IV (see the list of Pharaohs). However, even before their journey into the land of Egypt, Hebrews technically lived in Egypt (i.e. Egyptian Empire), as the land of Canaan was included into the empire during  successful military campaigns of various pharaohs of  the Eighteenth Dynasty.

Eighteenth Dynasty produced a number of Egypt’s most famous pharaohs, including Tutankhamun and his father Akhenaten. Also, during the reign of the Eighteen Dynasty, right at the time when Akhenaten’s father, pharaoh Amenhotep III, ruled over the Egyptian Empire, its power and wealth peaked. His reign was a period of unprecedented prosperity and artistic splendor (see Wikipedia entry for Amenhotep III).

So, the question arises why did Amenhotep III’s  successor, his son Amenhotep IV changed his name to Akhenaten in the fifth year of his reign and also switched to monotheism, diverting from the traditional polytheistic beliefs of the Egyptian people?

Placed in the context that Egyptians credited all of their prosperity and  military achievements to their gods, it becomes immediately obvious that Akhenaten’s move was a drastic and huge step into the unknown for the majority of  the Egyptian people (except for the Hebrews who settled in there few decades earlier). Is it possible that God influenced him through Joseph (who was possibly still alive at the time Akhenaten became a pharaoh), and according to some, was his maternal grandfather Yuya? Could that be a reason why Akhenaten introduced monotheism as the official religion of Egypt?

We know that Akhenaten (i.e. Amenhotep IV) initially “permitted worship of Egypt’s traditional deities to continue but near the Temple of Karnak (Amun-Ra’s great cult center), he erected several massive buildings including temples to the Aten…The relationship between Amenhotep IV and the priests of Amun-Re gradually deteriorated. In Year 5 of his reign, Amenhotep IV took decisive steps to establish the Aten as the exclusive, monotheistic god of Egypt: the pharaoh ‘disbanded the priesthoods of all the other gods…and diverted the income from these [other] cults to support the Aten’. To emphasize his complete allegiance to the Aten, the king officially changed his name from Amenhotep IV to Akhenaten or ‘Living Spirit of Aten'” (from Wikipedia).

Well, one could speculate that disgruntled priesthood, who lost their statuses and income, immediately started the behind-the-scene work to remove Akhenaten from the throne and get back into power. Was Akhenaten murdered, or forced to resign or simply died of a natural cause is yet to be proven, but one thing is for sure, after he was gone, things started to go back into “normality”.  When his son Tutankhaten became a pharaoh, in the third year of his reign, he changed his name to Tutankhamun, ended the worship of Aten and restored the god Amun to supremacy. This does indicate that the old  priesthood order was reinstated and given back their previous status and priviledges.

But the old priesthood didn’t want it to end there; they wanted all memory of their ordeal erased and also to make sure that such a thing would never happen again. So, here is the speculation: they made sure that after Akhenaten died (and I’m not convinced that his death was “unaided”) all members of the royal family were to be removed from the power, as they were too intertwined with Hebrews who “sponsored” this idea of monotheism. The exception was Tutankhamun, who was a kid, and was “useful” as long as he could be manipulated by his advisers (two of which later became pharaohs themselves). It is interesting to note that, after Tutankhamun died, his widow “wrote to the Hittite king Suppiluliuma I, asking if she could marry one of his sons, saying that she was very afraid, but would not take one of her own people as husband. However, the son was killed before reaching his new wife” (see Wikipedia).

As her marriage with a foreigner was not to happen, she probably didn’t have much of a choice but to marry Ay, one of her former husband’s advisers. Ay became a pharaoh, but was removed from power by Horemheb, who was also  Tutankhamun’s adviser and was originally named as his successor. It is interesting to note that Ay might have been son of Yuya, mentioned above as potentially the same person as the biblical Joseph. So, if this is true, he probably didn’t fit into the second part of the polytheistic priesthood’s plot – in order to make sure that return to monotheism would never happen again, they needed Hebrews downgraded and enslaved and history rewritten. Rewriting history was needed to remove all trace of the influential power Joseph (and probably some of his descendants) had. So, Ay consented and aided in restoration of the polytheism, but he probably didn’t want to go as far as enslaving his own relatives or removing his ancestors’ names from the historical records.

However, with the ascension of Horemheb to the throne, priests got what they wanted as he tried to “eliminate all references to the monotheistic experiment, a process that included expunging the name of his immediate predecessors, especially Ay, from the historical record” (from Wikipedia).  “Much of the art and building infrastructure created during Akhenaten’s reign was defaced or destroyed in the period following his death, particularly during the reigns of Horemheb and the early Nineteenth Dynasty kings. Stone building blocks from Akhenaten’s construction projects were later used as foundation stones for subsequent rulers’ temples and tombs” (from Wikipedia).

With the Eighteenth Dynasty’s royal family destroyed and history rewritten, Horemheb enslaved the Hebrews in a bid to completely remove them from the political life and places of influence. He was probably the pharaoh that Bible talks about in Exodus 1:8-11 saying: “Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land.

The reason why Egyptologists can’t find any reference of Hebrews ever living in Egypt is thus revealed: the history was rewritten by Horemheb (and his successors) and any record of Hebrews even remotely being connected with Egypt was completely removed by Ramesses II, after God had dealt with him and Egypt so terribly (as described in Exodus). This was so humiliating for the Egyptians that they simply had to (being already used to the idea of correcting the historical records) remove all traces of such memory from their collective consciousness.

In part 2 we will look into the timing of the project called “the chosen people” and what did God also want to accomplish with it (apart from converting Egypt to monotheism).



  1. Some really great posts on this web site , thankyou for contribution.

  2. […] God’s attempt to establish monotheism in ancient Egypt didn’t succeed (as described in part 1), this wasn’t crucial for the success of the overall project, which was to remove all […]

  3. […] Nevertheless, God is not bloodthirsty. From the example of Jesus Christ, who perfectly reflected Father’s character and nature (see John 17:25-26 and John 14:9), we understand that God loves us and cares for us His children. Also, the events from the Old Testament must be placed into the perspective that God wanted to remove all polytheistic religions from the Earth. For this purpose He needed to create a holy nation that will influence others to accept faith and show them how to live good and blessed lives (for more details refer to the series of posts named The Role of the Chosen People). […]

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