The Trouble with Ham
The Trouble with Ham
It Starts with Min
Egyptus may point to Coptos as the Lady’s
first settlement, but there is no doubt who was the first man who lived there. It was Min, formerly known as Khem,
the woman’s consort, first king and royal ancestor of all the pharaohs. Sethe
suggested reversing the titles, with Min the name of the land and Coptos the
name of the king.
The most impressive thing about Min of
Coptos is the manifest antiquity of everything about him, and the immense
age and conservatism of his cult.1
All down through history Min insists on showing up at the national celebrations
like some fossil intrusion from the beginning of time.2 For behind his familiar cult figure, Min is a historic person.
He is the first comer in the land, manifestly a stranger in Egypt, coming
as the ḥry-wdb, Lord of the Migration, to settle in Coptos after a long journey “from
the Land of the Gods.”3
He is always Lord of the Desert, Opener of Roads, Patron of Caravans and Bedouins,
who comes leading his hosts from the East, specifically, Gauthier maintains,
from Canaan.4 The
true Mother of Min is the queen of the East, “the venerated ‘Beduin Woman’
of legendary times,” whose role could be played in the rites only by
the wife of the pharaoh in person.5
Min’s name was written heraldically exactly like the Lady’s, with two crossed
arrows or the double-headed arrow, the classic thunderstone or lightning symbol,
which marks Min as the great storm-god,6 identified with Amon-Zeus [the name
Ammon is derived from Min]; as “opener of the rain-cloud,” “the
god above the clouds,”7 Min comes with the “red band of
Sekhmet [the Storm-Lady], the Eye of Horus, . . . as the god of
storm and flood.”8 “I am Min of Coptos,”
he says, as he confronts the dangers of the wild river and the lions, crocodiles,
and snakes on its banks. “I am the god Shu in the image of Re, seated
with the Eye of my Father protecting against all evils on the waters.”9
As the original settler of the land, Min
is a true Adam-figure: “Min the Coptite, great god in the midst of the
delightful [imɜ] trees, . . . having dominion in the garden
[skht.w], . . .
who created the Tree of Life, who came forth from [or created] vegetation;
who caused the flocks and herds to live.”10 All living things proceed not from
him but from his Eye—the woman. “Hail to thee holy garden, where
the divine members are formed [lit. brought together, or organized]; Min Lord
of the animals provides them with sustenance, assuring them of perpetual food
[bread]. . . . Min supplier of provender for the mouth.”11 One always entered the shrine of Min through his garden, where
his activity, according to Paul Guiyesse and Eugène Lefébure, “recalls
in many respects the history of Adam.”12 Though
it is not his original office and calling, Min seems to have acquired the
attributes of a god of fertility and agriculture as soon as he settled in
the broad and fertile plain of Coptos.13 In fact, his association with the famous “Night of the Drop”
(he being among other things the “Lord of the Dews”) takes his agricultural
role right back to the migration of the Lady. For the Night of the Drop, i.e.,
the night on which the Nile begins to rise, is, according to the Pyramid Texts,
“the night of the great deluge.” The rising of the river coincides
with the shedding of the woman’s tears; hence, it is called “the great
river of tears of the great goddess.”14 A Phoenician informant told Pausanius
that once at the time of the feast of Isis, when, thanks to the tears of the
Lady (so the people believed), the Nile begins to rise and bring life to the
fields, “the Roman governor of Egypt bribed a man to go down into the
shrine of Isis in Coptus.” The man returned and reported the mysteries
but died immediately.15 We have already heard about the great
weeping of the time when the Lady discovered the land under water; here it
is specifically connected with the rites of Coptos and with the fertilizing
virtues of Min.
His first and highest calling, however,
is that of archetype and parent of all the kings of Egypt. All the former
kings of the land line up on the right hand and on the left hand of Pharaoh
as he offers sacrifices and sings hymns of praise to his father Min.16 The two rites centering around Min,
the coronation and the cutting of the first sheaf (fig. 88), always go together,
but the coronation has clear priority in age and importance.17 Together
the rites celebrate the beginning of a new life cycle, the begetting of the
race and founding of the nation, as the king goes to the dwelling of his father
Min to celebrate a million jubilees and hundreds of thousands of years on
his throne: “Min comes to his temple of Millions of Years to guarantee
the integrity of the King’s crown.”18 Every king at his coronation takes the place of Min as the vanquisher
of his enemies who silences all opposition as “he unites the power of Horus with that of Seth,” and
then “rests in Thebes and Coptos” after his labors.19
His temple is modestly designated as his
dwelling, “the House of Min in the town of Coptos of the Nome of the
Two Falcons,”20 and
always had the form of the primitive beehive-shaped hut with a conical roof
of the first settlers and nomads (fig. 89).21 It is the conical hut of leaves or grass common to the African
rain forests and the veldt.22 Min’s role is clearly
defined: “Come, come Horus, Mighty Bull, great in kingship, to the dwelling
of Min-Amon where his son [the king] is! Build a monument, thy house, establish
a smn [= shelter] within
this land, a gathering point for life, stabilizing the years [calendar], establishing
the North and South firmly, even as Re does, forever!”23
In the usual Egyptian shuffling of divine
names, Min is more often identified with Horus than with any other deity.24 Yet his name definitely
establishes him as an early Ammon: Min, Men, Menu, and Amun are all forms
of the same name.25 Throughout
his important study of the hero, however, Lefébure in 1915 insisted on referring
to him by no other name than Khem, which he identified with the biblical Ham.26 Though
his philological speculations may have gone far afield, still, the basic ties
between Min-Amon and Khem-Horus are far too close and extensive to be ignored,
as they have been by all save a few French scholars, while the characters
and deeds of Ham and Min, by whatever name you choose to call the latter,
present the most convincing parallels. If Min’s name was long read incorrectly
as Khem, there was a reason for it, since the Egyptians themselves were wont
to write the name phonetically as Khm beside the belemnite-symbol as well as the name
Mn—apparently there was a choice.27 The Khem-connections meet us everywhere.
Lefébure observes that the letters of the Hebrew Ham “correspond exactly”
with the word written by the Greeks to designate the Egyptian name of Panopolis, Khemmis,
Min’s headquarters.28 Gauthier,
following Herodotus,29 notes
that Min’s land is par excellence the country of the Hamites.30 Min had the peculiar archaic epithet
of the Bald One, applied also to Horus31 and to that Nimrod of Ham’s line who
would claim the priesthood of Abraham. The persistent tradition surviving
among the modern natives of Egypt that Ham was the founder of Coptos32 shows that folk memory is an enduring depository
of lost history.
Min’s Royal Progress
Before searching for him abroad, however,
we should consider that great national celebration of the Egyptians, which
was distinctively and properly Min’s show—the pr.t Mnw—the
great Expedition, Sortie, Auszug, or “The Coming Forth of Min” from Coptos. It was celebrated
as early as the Old Kingdom, and all Egypt participated.33 The purpose of the ritual march from
Coptos was, of course, to establish the rule of Min in all the valley and
to receive the joyous welcoming acclamation of the inhabitants or to silence
those disinclined to accept the new rule. Immediately upon receiving the crown,
the king goes forth, as elsewhere in the ancient world, on his great royal
progress,34 “taking possession of the river-banks and fields,” inspecting
the lands over which he now rules as ḥry-wdb, Lord of the Terrain.35 Min is Horus the Avenger, going forth
on his birthday.36 And since that was the New Year, the
day of creation, the renewal of life, his procession inevitably becomes identified
with those of Sokar and Sothis, who also go forth in ships at the New Year. Spiegel suggests
that the fusion took place in the Fourth Dynasty.37
Question: If the new king entered the
land as his mother’s companion and champion, how could he be born or suckled
as an infant by Nephthys the wet nurse in the secret nest in the Kh.b.t, marshes of Khemmis, the ultimate hiding place from
Apophis, who sought his destruction?38
Answer: In one tradition Khemmis is the
final goal of Min’s coronation progress;39 in another it is his cradle. That
is a typical example of the absorption of one historical or mythological episode
into the celebration of another, facilitated by deliberate geographical vagueness
favoring a freely invented mythical locale.40 Khemmis is where the youthful king
escapes the chaotic powers of the Deep and of Darkness at the beginning of
the world, which time can be either at the creation or after the flood, since
the latter event was but a repetition of the world’s beginning. In each case
the emergence of the lotus, the Cow, and the newborn rising Sun represent
the same things, while the place of beginning itself can be the Primal Hill
of Hermopolis, the Field of Reeds or Paradise, or the Field of Offerings of
Heliopolis, or the Lakes of Shu, the Island of Fire, the Lake of the Two Swords,
the Necropolis, the Hall of Judgment, Land of the Dead, Place of Rebirth,
Place of Beginning, Place of Renewal, the Holy Land, the West (Coffin Texts),
the East (Book of the Dead). In one tradition Khemmis is in the marshes of
the Delta; in another it is near Coptos. When great centers like Hieraconpolis,
Hermopolis, and Heliopolis vied for priority as the point of origin of the
human drama, each naturally took into its ritual repertoire whatever scenarios
were most widely acceptable, consciously avoiding being too specific. The
Metternich Stele in which both Khemmis and Hotep (the place of settlement)
are moved from Upper Egypt to the vicinity of “the meadow of Heliopolis,”41 where
Tefnut breaks into the security of the Delta by a ruse and harms the child
Horus,42 may reflect the resentment
of the northern priests to the southern claims to priority. It is this confusion
that has obscured the real picture of the coming of the Lady and her son to
As the Strong Horus, Min naturally figured
as the son of Osiris when the Abydos rites were introduced; but his original
calling was not funerary, and the way in which the various figures became
identified remains obscure, according to Joachim Spiegel.43 Min came forth from his house after
resting there—a detail that Gauthier finds puzzling, but which the reader
at this point has surely been expecting.44 The sortie of Min became an episode
in the life of the king, his coronation or the anniversary of it.45 The
first act of the king on going forth is to shoot an arrow into each of the
four cardinal points of the compass, signifying his taking possession of all
the world within range (the four directional arrows being both his emblem
and that of the Lady);46 at
the same time he released four birds, called “the Four Messengers of
Min,” to the four directions (fig. 90), with instructions to “announce
that the great lord of Heaven has seized the White and the Red Crown.”47 As early as the Pyramid
Texts, we read of the king riding the four birds in the manner of Abraham’s
Nimrod, who also shot the four arrows and claimed the rule of the world—which
is another story, but not quite.48 In another rite three birds go forth,
a falcon, a vulture, and an ibis, representing Shu or Horus, Mut the Lady,
and Thoth, our migrating trio.49 Through all this, Min is viewed as
a historic figure, founding the kingdom at Coptos50 and establishing his rule in the land
as Amon of Thebes51 and at Pe = Apu = Akhmim = Panopolis
= Khemmis, Ham’s town (directly across the river from Coptos), which always
remained his other residence.52
After almost half a century of research,
Professor Gauthier’s portrait of Min still stands essentially unaltered in
Spiegel’s recent study. Min is Wep-wawet, “The Opener of the Ways,”
“in the function of the new king” at his coronation, which always
marks the ascension of a new king, his office of harvest god being secondary.53 He is Min-Horus the Son, the strong
Horus taking over the land, the living monarch as Min vindicating his claim
to the throne, except at Coptos, where he always appears as the visiting king
in person. His expedition was not a regular event, but took place only when
a new king came visiting to announce his succession to the throne. A famous
stele in the Louvre sums up his authority: “I praise Min and exalt Horus
of the upraised arm. Hail to thee! Min comes forth with the tall feathers,
son of Osiris, born of the goddess Isis, great in the sn-wt-shrine,
great in Akhmim, he of Coptos, Horus of the smiting arm, Lord of Majesty who
silences the arrogant, Prince of all the Gods, great of incense when he comes
down from Mdɜ-land,
esteemed in Nubia.”54
If Horus is one from afar, so is Min,
a lord of foreign lands55 and the patron of strangers in Egypt,56 himself an alien. His festival at Denderah was reserved for strangers—not
just for any strangers, however, but strangers from particular lands: from
Keneset, Punt, the lands of Madjaiu, east and west,57 which Min-Khem in the role of Ammon-Re
brings into subjection and hands over to the rule of Horus.58 Those
were the regions over which Ammon ruled in the mythical beginning: “The
vast Hamitic zone corresponds to that of Khem,” the pure primal ethnic
stock of the Egyptians,59 the
early African and Asiatic heritage. The whole stretch of lands to the west
of Egypt, from the Libyans and Berbers in the north down through the Madjaw
and Tehennu, and the eastern and western Msh’i—all were supposedly descendants
of Min-Khem.60 This
marks also the empire of the biblical Ham, and though none of the nations
mentioned were black, large parts of the vast domain were both originally
black country and later occupied or reoccupied by them. With his roots deep
in central Africa, “it is natural,” wrote Lefébure, “that Khem-Horus
should pass as the father of the black races.”61 Moreover, the Egyptian as well as
the Israelite record puts the land of Canaan under Ham = Khem’s dominion—the
“land of the Gods” being Asiatic as well as African.62
Black and White
As ruler of great nations which were neither
black nor Egyptian,63 as well as ruler of the blacks themselves, our hero has definitely
a dual personality, representing that civilizing mixture from which pharaonic
civilization emerged in time. Thus Lefébure observes that Khem has two types
of primitive dwelling: (1) the rectangular Egyptian building with its trees
at the entrance and (2) the beehive-shaped shrine with the bull’s skull mounted
on a pole before the entrance, that being the typical village hut of the African
rain forests converted to a shrine by the bucranium (ox skull).64 Hence he is the bringer and father
of two cultures. As Ammon he was peculiarly suited to become the god of the
empire at the beginning of the New Kingdom. He was both Khem (as the Moon
and Bull-god), and “everything that does not belong to Khem” (as Ammon-Re the sun- and ram-god).65 In keeping with this,
the Pharaoh himself as Ammon is the Ram, symbol of begetting the race, performing
the same function as a bull, Ka-mut-ef and spouse of his mother.66 Hermann te Velde has recently shed
light on the dual nature of the hero when he points out that Horus and Seth
(whom he equates with Min in the earliest times) necessarily
share the kingdom at all times, even though only Horus rules; according to
the Egyptians the principle of opposition is necessary in all things. Horus’s
rule would not be complete unless it had its counterside, the dark side to
counterbalance the light. Dominion must always be a dual concept in Egypt.67 The great showdown between Horus and
Seth ends in reconciliation.68
Other-world texts engraved in royal tombs
show the subject people who stand before Horus in order of proximity as, first,
Egyptians and the dwellers of adjacent deserts, then the Amu or Asiatics,
the Tamehu of the Sahara regions to the west, then the eastern and western
Nehesi, the Ethiopians on both sides of the Red Sea, and then the blacks.69 In these ethnic texts
it is explained that the Amu and Tehemu are the children of the Sun’s Eye
(the Lady herself) and are descendants of Horus as are the blacks, the latter
deriving from the common ancestor “in his role of Khem.”70 For aside from Khem-Min himself, Horus
is the only other deity represented as a Negro,71 described in an inscription from the
temple of Edfu as “the son of Isis and Osiris, who is a black of Ethiopia,
who overcame Set.”72 A black person here appears as the
true heir to the throne and the victor over the adversary.
It is not only Lefébure who is impressed
by Min’s special relationship to the black people; Gauthier and Spiegel no
less strongly emphasize it. What has especially attracted the attention of
students of Min-Khem is the role of a black priest in his rites. He leads the hymn at the harvest rites,
which, according to Lefébure, reads: “O ebony Khem, black as pitch, . . .
a bull coming from the lands of the strangers!”73 In what might be called a minimal
statement of Min’s relationship to the blacks, Gauthier explains that “the
Negro of Punt . . . is a priest [or perhaps a cantor] of black color.
One may assume that . . . the ceremony of the ‘Coming Forth of Min’
included a number of black participants or at least one black individual.
Min’s relationship to the Negroes has not yet been clearly defined, but it
seems to have been quite real and intimate.”74 Actually
the black priest was a figure of central importance in the elaborate rites
of Min. It is he, “the Black Man [Nehesi] of Punt,” who leads the
chorus of greeting as Min comes into the land of the South: “Words spoken
by the Negro of Punt before the face of this god. Recite as follows: Thou
art beloved, O Min. Hail to thee, Min Lord of Sn.wt [a stopping place on the Lady’s migration], Lord
of Paa [Khemmis], . . .
mighty is thy countenance, in the form of a bull, coming over the foreign
mountains, rejoicing to be promoted to the rank of King of the Gods!”75 As Lefébure puts it,
“the Negroes passed for the sons and worshippers of Khem,” with
a black priest administering his rites coming from the same land as the god.76 The dark color of the chief singer
of Min relates him, Gauthier points out, to the black or dusty color of Min
himself, shown in rites of a clearly Negro background.77
Following the well-known pattern by which
conquerors become the accepted rulers of the conquered,78 Min is both the conqueror and the
leader of the blacks: “Horus the Mighty One who overthrows the Blacks
is the first of the Nubians. The ithyphallic god was even represented at times
with a black face. . . . It is precisely in this capacity of
god of the blacks that he is equated to Min; Amon is painted blue, a color
often confused with black.”79 “Hail to thee,” he is greeted,
“Min Lord of Ipw and Snw, the true lapis lazuli of the house of Sekhmet”—reminding
us that in this capacity he is still the companion of Sekhmet, the woman who
crossed the desert to Egypt.80 His rule is challenged,
and “Min is justified before his enemies in heaven, by the judges of
every god and goddess,” i.e., the same tribunal that settles the dispute
between Horus and Seth,81 which
also goes back to rivals at the time of the invasion. Herodotus reports that
though the Egyptians shun foreign customs, an exception is the festival near
Khemmis, in the vicinity of Thebes, where the hero who dwells in his shrine
brings prosperity to the land; what is foreign about him is his ready identification
with the wandering hero Perseus, and the close resemblance of his celebration to
that of the Greek ritual games. The locals claimed that Perseus came to Khemmis
when he learned about it from his mother and later he returned to the place
“and recognized all his kinsmen there.”82 But Perseus is also king of the Ethiopians, ancestor of the Cephenes
or Phoenicians—he is one of those fruitful heroes like Abraham and Herakles,
who really get around.83 No
less important than his African connections are Min’s Canaanite connections,
which correspond closely with those of the biblical Ham.84
Here we may refer to one important detail
in the Abraham text, namely, that the Lady who came to Egypt “settled
her sons in it” (Abraham
1:24); we are told that “the eldest son of Egyptus, the daughter of Ham”
established the “first government of Egypt,” (Abraham 1:25), but
who were the sons? One thinks at once of the inseparable pair Horus and Seth,
who in the beginning enjoy equal billing and equal honor, ruling the land
in turns, consistent with the “deeply rooted Egyptian tendency to understand
the world in dualistic terms,” requiring that two brothers rule at once
“in polar antagonism,” while only one received the homage of the
Lady could have survived more than one son on the throne (cf. the story of
the Two Brothers), and her sons could have ruled in succession. In some legends
she outrages Horus by recognizing Seth as well as him.86 Abraham 1:24 says she “afterward
settled her sons in it”—not that they all became kings.
Lefébure maintained that the Egyptians
were somewhat embarrassed and confused by the genealogy of Min—how could
they, the only real people, share the honors of the divine ancestor with all
those other nations and races? While they were the children of Horus and Sekhet
[sic], the Mother of the
Eye, she who “created them and she who protects their souls,” they
conceded that the blacks were the children of Horus also, but it had to be
in another capacity and by virtue of another type of marriage.87 The fundamental problem is the same
for the ethnic as for the closely related matriarchal question; there was
nothing wrong with the matriarchal line as such, but in competition with the
patriarchal claims it leads to all manner of trouble and confusion. There
is also no debate as to whether black or white is preferable; the question
is, when they are mingled, which shall predominate? The Egyptians would neither
claim Min as their own nor deny him. He is both the leader of the blacks and
their conqueror—a perfectly natural combination, for the Egyptians are
plainly of mixed race, including black elements, “a fusion of the conquered
and the conquerors,” as their language, a mingling of Hamitic and Semitic,
like Horus, must clear his title to the throne from time to time, but the
claim is always in doubt.
The perennial showdown to determine the
right to the throne takes place in terms of black versus white as well as
patriarchy versus matriarchy in the exciting and romantic Setne romances.
There is a wonder child Si-Osiris brought to the court of Pharaoh as a boy
by his father to display his precocity in settling the dispute between rival
claimants to the throne, the white Horus and the black Horus. Here one cannot
resist recalling the legend of how the boy Abraham was brought to the court
of Nimrod by his father and there displayed his precocity by discrediting
that monarch’s claim to the throne.
The prologue to the Setne story centers
entirely around Coptos and the attempt by a son and heir of Pharaoh to obtain
the book of all knowledge hidden in the Abaton there beneath the waters, guarded
by the endless serpent, and jealously withheld by its author, an earlier prince
of Egypt who sleeps there with his wife and child—beneath the temple
of Isis of Coptos and Harpocrates her child.89 In the second story (“Manifestation in Thebes”),90 Setne Khamuas takes his young son,
the boy Si-Osiris, to the court where Pharaoh is troubled by a letter from
the Nehes (the black Man) of Ethiopia challenging his kingly
and priestly competence by a missive that he is supposed to read without opening
the seal. The boy is a wonder child and superscribe at the age of twelve and
easily reads the letter, which tells how, many centuries before, Hor the son
of the Sow, thereafter called the son of Negress, planned to humiliate Pharaoh
and blast the land with drought, taking the Pharaoh Si-Amon to Ethiopia by
night and there afflicting him with five hundred lashes.91 (When the priests of Heliopolis, competing
with the great shrine of the South, claimed Min of Coptos for their own, they
hailed him as the son of the White Sow.)92 The beating went on for three nights,
and the pharaoh’s wise men were helpless. But at last, the knowledge of the
boy Si-Osiris turned the tables, and the viceroy of Ethiopia received the
identical treatment that had been administered to Pharaoh.93 Then “said Hor
the son of the Negress, . . . let me be sent to Egypt . . .
that I may strive against him.” Before going, he set up a sign with his
mother the Negress so that she could come to his aid when he was hard pressed;
the sign was the upheavals of nature and the blood-red sky that went before
the Negress in the manner of Sekhmet of the desert. The black and the white
Horus contend with the identical claims and identical methods, until the Negress
must come to the rescue of her son, but both are turned into sacrificial sem-geese.
To save their lives they swear, the Negress never to return to Egypt, her
son not to return for fifteen hundred years. For every fifteen hundred years
the same drama is repeated, since the black Hor did not repent; he returned
to Egypt after fifteen hundred years to find his opponent awaiting to meet
him in the shape of the boy Si-Osiris: “I prayed before Osiris in Amenti
to let me come forth to the world again,” for the showdown.94 And so it goes on, mixing “Egyptus”
motifs—matriarchy, upheavals of nature, the journey from afar, etc.—with
familiar themes from the Abraham legends, the wonder boy at court challenging
the arrogant monarch, the humiliation of the king, etc., this time matching
black versus white, with neither winning in the end.
Though Griffith found this to be “one
of the finest works of imagination that Egypt has bequeathed to us,”95 the
elements it contains are all familiar. Even the odd detail that the usurper
was taken in shame back home in an aerial boat matches Nimrod’s flying chariot,
which let him down with an undignified landing. The things to note, however,
are the never-settled rivalry between a black and a white Horus and the tension
between the races, as also between the matriarchal and patriarchal orders;
in the story the black prince never goes anywhere without his mother or does
anything without her instructions.
The first Setne story (Si-Osiris is the second) tells how
the seat of wisdom and mystic power was transferred in a series of ceremonial
water processions from the Abaton of Isis at Coptos to the court of Pharaoh
at Memphis, after the sinister matriarchal power of Tabubue (a Shulamite figure)
was broken,96 another indication
of the prior claims of the south in the founding legends.
If one sees in this story the repetition
of motifs of hoary antiquity (lunar cycles), its persistence in Egyptian folklore
is attested in the Life of Shenute, the greatest of the Coptic fathers, which tells
how the saint drove the devil out of a great bronze statue in the center of
the marketplace of Akhmim (Panopolis), to which the people would repair for
oracles and healings. He pierced the heel of the statue, and as the devil
fled from it and dissolved in the air like smoke, he cried: “I come out
of this statue, O Shenute, because of the awful torments you have made me
suffer.” Then he took the form of a black man of Abyssinia of enormous
size and frightening countenance, and so departed.97 Thus
the black Horus survives in Coptos right down to Christian times.
Min = Khem and the Lady
As he mounts the steps of the throne,
“Isis the Mistress of Authority (skhm)” awaits the new Min at the top—she is
the throne itself.98 “He
kisses the earth before Hathor the Mistress of the High House,” and she
“beholds the beauty of Min as he marches forth.”99 The two tall feathers on his head
“very pointedly recall Shu and Tefnut,” according to Spiegel.100 Min is never without his mother,
who is his wife; in the lists of primal deities Min’s name is always coupled
with that of Heket-Hathor,101 while his defunct predecessor on
the throne goes to heaven to be reenthroned there as Min, “mindful of
his beloved Eye.”102 The final goal of his expedition
is Khemmis, the marsh where Isis bore the new king103 and hid him in the bullrushes.104
In the famous seventeenth chapter of the Book of the Dead, Min and Horus meet
and fuse in the heroic son and companion of Isis, the victorious invader of
the land.105 In the foundation inscription of
the temple of Denderah Min is “the son of Isis the Great at Apu (Panopolis),
she who protects her son Horus.”106 There was a tradition that Min begot
Horus to take the place of Osiris, who was drowned.107 In the Middle Ages
Makrizi reports that the temple of Coptos “had for its center a young
black girl holding in her arms an infant of the same color”—Isis
and the black Horus.108 Indeed, the spreading of the cult of Isis in the West, including
Europe, coincides with the introduction of black virgins all over the Christian
world. Defending northern priority, the Metternich Stele insists that the
healing Min of Coptos is really the son of the White Sow of Heliopolis.109
As the supreme sex symbol of gods and
men, Min behaves with shocking promiscuity, which is hardly relieved by its
ritual nature. A surviving prehistoric statue of Min, “for us the earliest
example not only of a free standing image of a god but of monumental statuary
in general,” stood in the conical hut at Coptos; it became the stock
figure of the fruitful Ammon with upraised arm, found on temple walls all
over Egypt, to proclaim the king’s reproductive office.110 His title of Min “who embraced
the Wdɜ.t Eye” makes him both husband and son of the
Lady.111 But his promiscuity went far beyond
that. “The Egyptians,” wrote Plutarch, “are accustomed to call
Horus ‘Min’ meaning visible,” referring to the symbol of reproduction
publicly paraded at his festival.112 The Greeks identified him with the
lustful Pan and gave the name of Panopolis to his city of Apu = Akhmim = Khemmis.113 His sacred plants were aphrodisiacal,114 and he is everywhere represented as indulging in incestuous relationships
with those of his immediate family. He had the most numerous and varied religious
entourage of all the gods, consisting mostly of his huge harem.115 The hymns, or rather chanting, of
his worshipers were accompanied with lewd dancing and carousing—rock
and roll—to the exciting stimulus of a band of sistrum-shaking damsels.116
But for all its licentiousness, the cult
of Min was of venerable antiquity and strictly high class—only ladies
of the highest birth, the hierodules of Ammon-Zeus, could belong to the harem,117
the king himself being officially the “Guardian of the Virginity of the
Harim.”118 “The Egyptians honor Ammon [Zeus],” wrote Strabo, “by
consecrating to him a young virgin which the Greeks call Pallades [hierodule],
of the greatest beauty and highest birth.”119 So Abraham: “Now, this priest had offered upon this altar
three virgins . . . of the royal descent directly from the loins
of Ham [Khem = Min = Amon]. These virgins were offered up because of their
virtue; they would not bow down [cooperate as hierodules], . . .
and it was done after the manner of the Egyptians” (Abraham 1:11). The
rites of Min were secret, and the chief priest was “the overseer of the
Mysteries of the God Menti in his character of Kamutef,”
literally the “Bull of his Mother.”120 The chief of women was, of course, the Lady herself, “who
watches over Min,”121 who “goes forth
in procession from his shrine (naos) to permit Isis his Mother to look upon his charms.”122 His special bull titles
always denote his too-intimate relationships with his mother.123 For he is the divine
beast, the irrepressible rampant bull ready for anything. In this regard he
is the double of Seth, the two occupying prehistoric shrines directly opposite
each other on the two sides of the Nile below Thebes. Their outstanding characteristic,
as te Velde describes it, is their insistence on going beyond the bounds of
discretion and morality, completely unrestrained in their appetites and passions.124
The whip that the Min images hold with
upraised arm is always viewed as a fertility symbol (cf. the Lupercalia);
some Egyptologists have maintained that it signifies that Min took advantage
of his mother by brute force, seizing the matriarchal rule of the land by
violence and incest—a tradition also associated with Ham and Nimrod
on counts of both brutality and gross immorality.125 What suggested that was Min’s commonest
epithet, Ka-mut-ef, “Bull of his Mother,” the title that the youthful
successor to the throne went by at the coronation, by virtue of which he mounts
the throne with his mother’s approval and as her champion.126
As the king cuts the sacred sheaf at the
coronation, his Lady walks around him seven times in a circle uttering appropriate
incantations; then he buries his face in the sheaf and presents it before
the nose of Min, saying: “Hail to Min on the sheaf! The king (at his
coronation) beholds the crown on thy brow, he brings it to thee. Hail to thee,
Min who makes his mother conceive! How mysterious and hidden is that which
thou doest in the dark!”127 “Thy heart unites [dmi]
with the heart of the king,” says a hymn to Min, “as the heart of
Horus is united with his mother Isis when he consorts with her and gives his
heart to her as they lie side by side inseparably.”128 Of the four children of Ham, Lefébure
notes, only Egypt [Heb. Miṣraim] refused to acknowledge his descent from the line of Ham, cursed as
it was by Noah in the person of Canaan. Why? Because they regarded that line
as the “product of obscene nocturnal rites.”129 In the matriarchal order where the
queen can take any number of consorts, the male line of descent can never
be guaranteed as pure.
Question: Were these “the abominations
of the ancients?”
Answer: They were plainly related to that
perversion of rites of which ancient legends (e.g., the Enoch stories) have
so much to say. In the Abraham traditions the great perverter Nimrod marries
his mother Sachlas and claims to possess the priesthood through his inheritance
of the garment of Noah that was stolen by Ham and passed down as an illegal
heritage to his descendants.130
Question: Why must we dwell on this disturbing
Answer: To make clear that the taboo placed
upon the matriarchal succession was more than a mere legal technicality. Throughout
the ancient world the matriarchal rites tend to be orgiastic and obscene,
which should disqualify them for higher things. Any looseness or license in
a sacral society puts the patriarchal order out of business; without strict
moral controls, paternity is always in doubt. On the other hand, no amount
of domestic disorder can ever jeopardize the claims of motherhood. Hence religions
centered in the mother cult tend to be morally permissive and voluptuous,
easily degenerating into “the abominations of the ancients.” Consider
what happened to this abominable cult, which the Book of Abraham, please note,
makes no efforts to gloss over as it was practiced by Abraham’s own father
in the Canaanitish version of the cult that was at the time closely knit to
Egypt. The Ammon connection takes us to the oracle of Zeus-Ammon in the Sahara,
from which Alexander the Great spread the imperative of its authority throughout
the known world,131 hence on to the Baal-Hammon of Carthage
with its well-known abominations of child-sacrifice and ritual prostitution,132 imported directly from Abraham’s Canaan—since Carthage was
a Phoenician city. We can follow it directly from the oracle of Ammon into
Greece in the Pseudo Callisthenes
and into Italy and the Roman world with their Janus cult,133 which takes us in turn to Facsimile 2 of the Book of Abraham,
where for the present we must call a halt.
Question: Did Min make the cruise with
Answer: The sortie from Coptos was expressly
by boat: “Come, sail to thy fields,” the people sing, “toward
thy glorious ksb.t-plants,
green as turquoise and lapis-lazuli.” The great temple at Karnak was
“a resting-place during the procession of the sacred ships bearing the
statue of the ithyphallic Amon Bull-of-His Mother.”134
The Curse of Ham
Scripture and tradition tie Pharaoh’s
genealogy inseparably to Ham, and hence to the famous curse that “belongs
to the red thread of history,” as Wolfgang Richter puts it.135 Or, to follow the Book of Abraham,
“Thus, from Ham, sprang that race which preserved the curse in the land”
(Abraham 1:24). Which was cursed, the land or the people? “It can only
be the land that it meant,” Richter concludes,136 for as F. M. Theodor
Böhl maintains, classification of people by race is “a concept utterly
foreign to the ancient Orient”—the curse of Ham belongs to whoever oppresses Israel, whether Babylonians, Assyrians,
Philistines, Phoenicians, or Canaanites, each of which in their time has been
assigned by ancient and modern writers to the line of Ham.137
When Noah divided up the lands among his
sons, according to the book of Jubilees, he pronounced “a curse on every one that sought
to seize the portion which had not fallen [to him] by his lot.”138 So when Canaan, the son of Ham, coveted
and occupied “the land of Lebanon to the river of Egypt,” refusing
to move out even when his father and his brothers fervidly urged him to do
so, they reminded him that he would surely come under “the curse by which
we bound ourselves by an oath in the presence of the holy judge, and in the
presence of Noah our father.”139 From ancient times the wise men have
speculated and argued about why Canaan was cursed for Ham’s offense in Genesis
10:24—27. Some say that the editors of Genesis made a mistake and “put
Ham in the place of Canaan,”140 and Jubilees
itself says that Ham was outraged at the injustice to Canaan;141 yet, as we have seen, Canaan did deserve cursing, only for another
crime. “Why, since the whole of the folly was Ham’s, was Canaan cursed?”
one early writer asks, and answers, he was not; no one is ever cursed or blessed
without deserving it. “When the youth [Canaan] grew up, and attained
the full measure of his understanding, Satan entered into him, and became
to him a teacher of sin.” Accordingly, “he renewed the work of the
house of Cain.”142
This follows closely the traditions found
in the Book of Mormon (Mosiah 5:13—15; Helaman 6:27; Ether 8:15) and
the book of Moses (5:49). Epiphanius, an early and well-informed writer, reports
that “Canaan, the violent one,” invaded Palestine, but even though
he was out of order, “God suffered him to remain if he would repent;
. . . but he did not
repent,” so after many years came “‘the fulness of the iniquity
of the Amorrians.'”143 We find reference to this tradition in the Book of Mormon: “Cursed
be the land forever and ever unto those workers of darkness and secret combinations,
even unto destruction, except they repent before they are fully ripe”
(Alma 37:28, 31). Nephi was referring to the children of Canaan when he warned
his brothers against feeling superior to them: “Do ye suppose that the
children of this land, . . . who were driven out by our fathers
. . . were righteous? . . . Do ye suppose that our fathers
would have been more choice than they if they had been righteous? Behold I
say unto you, Nay. Behold, the Lord esteemeth all flesh in one; he that is
righteous is favored of God.” Then he makes the significant statement
that “the Lord did curse
the land against them, and bless
it unto our fathers” (1 Nephi 17:33—35). The same land is both blessed and cursed, and the inhabitants
likewise are blessed or cursed not by virtue of their family connection, but
according to their behavior: “It is a holy land; and I curse it not save
it be for the cause of iniquity” (Enos 1:10). The old Hasidic curse on
the land of Canaan is virtually identical with that which is pronounced on
this promised land in the Book of Mormon:144
The Lord gave Canaan to Abraham on the condition that his heirs should follow
in his footsteps. When Ishmael did not adhere fully to his father’s teachings,
Isaac received the inheritance. When Esau did not comply with the true tradition,
Israel was given the heritage. When Israel became habitually delinquent, his
heirloom reverted to Esau [i.e., Romans, Christians, Gentiles]. When Esau’s
followers degenerated they were compelled to surrender Canaan to Ishmael [the
Moslems]. . . . The land was lost by Ishmael to Edom [Esau]
[“the Gentiles” = “Idumea or the world,” D&C 1:36]
and will shortly be given up by Edom to its rightful owner—Israel.145
The point of the legends is that Canaan
acted willfully and wrongly; for that reason the land was cursed for him.
As might be expected, both Jews and Canaanites, avoiding such moral responsibility,
have preferred through the centuries to argue their respective rights to the
land on legal grounds alone. Thus the Talmud reports a formal debate between
a Jewish and a Canaanite lawyer in the presence of Alexander the Great as
to who had the better right to the land that Alexander had taken by violence
and was now presuming to reassign with no better right than that of Canaan
of old.146 It was believed by the Jews that Abraham’s Hebron was actually
built by Ham for his son Canaan;147
even the Jewish doctors were divided about equally on the relative merits
of the two claims,148
a clear indication that the Canaanites were there from the beginning. On the
other hand, Israel and her neighbors were never in any doubt that Yahweh had
given the land to the Jews, and thought of it as theirs.149 That this issue should be very much
alive at the present day admonishes us not to treat even these ancient traditions
The principle that righteousness and wickedness
are their own blessing and cursing was very much alive in the wisdom of the
Egyptians. The genealogy of Pharaoh, according to Rudolf Anthes, who made
special studies of the subject, was not concerned with purity of blood, but
with purity of life and religion.150 The royal line begins when “Atum,
the very old one [cf. Adam the Ancient of Days] was assimilated to Horus as
the ruler of Egypt and the heavenly god.”151 In their constant
effort to assure the purity of the Egyptian blood, culture, and religion,152 ritual played an important
part, in particular the right of the patriarchal blessing. The infant heir
to the throne received such a blessing when “Thoth and Ammon, in the
place of Horus and Seth, purify the child, lay their hands on it, and give
it a blessing and good wishes.”153 Those pharaohs who were not born to the royal line but married
into it also received the proper blood and family ties by such a blessing.154 Indeed, it will be recalled that
the seed of Abraham consists mostly of adopted children (Galatians 3:29).
The episode in the Genesis Apocryphon
in which Abraham heals the ailing Pharaoh by laying his hands on his head
and blessing him has caused much head scratching among scholars and clergy;155 that ordinance marks both the end of the king’s attempt to raise
up a royal line by Sarah and the acknowledgment of Abraham’s true relationship
to Sarah the queen.156 At many points this
relates to the classic story of the marriage of Joseph and Asenath,157 which explains the mingling and reconciling
of the blood of Ham with the blood of Israel. For Asenath, it will be recalled,
was the daughter of the high priest of Heliopolis (Genesis 41:45; 46:20),
and hence of the pure line of Ham; she was also the wife of Joseph and the
mother of our own vaunted ancestor Ephraim (Genesis 41:50—52; 46:20).
The purpose of the story is to tell how she became an Israelite and he became
the heir of Pharaoh.
It was the blessings that did it. The
first step was for Joseph to lay his right hand upon the head of his future
bride and say: “Lord God, Father of Israel . . . who leadeth
from dark to light, from error to truth, and death to life [well-known Egyptian
formulas], Oh bless this maiden; give her life; renew her through thy Holy
In rites that follow, she renounces the luxury, splendor, and rank of an Egyptian
princess, but not her parentage, and is disowned by the mass of the Egyptians.159 Then she is washed
and clothed in white by an angel,160 who registers her name in the Book of Life,161 with the declaration, “From this day forward thou art newly
created and formed and given a new life, eating the bread of life and receiving
the anointing with the oil of immortality”—more familiar Egyptian
and Hebrew ordinances. Then she is given a new name.162 Next comes a surprise: having been adopted into the covenant as
all of Abraham’s converts were, becoming the seed of Abraham by adoption,
the maiden has yet to be married. And that ordinance is performed by Pharaoh
himself, who, after giving the couple his blessing,163 crowns them with golden crowns.164
Laying his hands on their heads, he then pronounces the operative blessing:
“May the Lord, the Most High God, bless you, and multiply and exalt and
glorify you throughout all Eternity.”165 Then he instructs them to seal the marriage with a kiss, and the
rites are completed as the whole court goes to celebrate a seven-day feast
to which all the nobility of Egypt and all the kings of the nation were invited.166 It is only later that the couple
visit Father Jacob and receive an Israelite blessing and his embraces.167
An authentic touch is the resentment felt
by the proud Egyptian nobility at the downgrading of a princess. They rally
behind the son of Pharaoh, who wanted Asenath for himself. When Pharaoh refused
to break the peace and Joseph refused to shed the blood of a new relative,
the young man led his furious band in battle against his father and Joseph.
In the attack, the brothers of Joseph defended themselves, and the Egyptian
prince was slain. Then his father gave obeisance to Levi as the true high
priest (an Abraham motif—the king is converted), but he died of grief
for his son, whereupon Joseph became pharaoh of Egypt—by no means the
first or the last Asiatic or man from Canaan to do so. This romantic and heroic
tale is a skillful bit of propaganda, upholding the honor and vindicating
the authority of Pharaoh, while gently but firmly supplanting his priesthood
with that of Jacob and Levi.
The Mark of Cain
When Cain was cursed because of his sin
he went to the land of Nod (Genesis 4:16)—meaning nomadism or wandering;
he and his descendants became wanderers on the face of the earth. The parallel
with the Lamanites at once springs to mind. Lamanite darkness was ethnic in
the broadest sense, being both hereditary and cultural, shifting between “white
and delightsome” and “dark and loathsome,” along with manners
and customs as well as intermarriage (Alma 3:4—10). But inseparable
from the cultural heritage of ancient tribes were the markings that members
of the society put on themselves, without which they would be considered outcasts.
People who marked their foreheads with red after the Lamanite custom “knew
not that they were fulfilling the words of God when they began to mark themselves
in their foreheads,” thus showing that the Lamanite curse had fallen
on them (Alma 3:18).
It was the same with the descendants of
Cain. Since time immemorial they have been identified throughout the East
with those wandering tribes of metalworkers whose father was Tubal Cain. “Thubal
bore the sins of Cain,” says a midrash, “and followed Cain’s trade.
For he prepared weapons for murderers,”168 a tradition clearly echoed in the
Book of Mormon (Ether 8:15). Tubal is the Sumerian tibera,
coppersmith or metalworker.169
As the sign of their mystery and their tribe, the wandering smiths or tinkers
have always blackened their faces with soot, a practice still found among
journeying sweeps and some others who work at the grimy forge.170 The name by which they were known
was Qenites171 (cf. Aramaic qēnā
= smith). The ancient people of Tubal were also connected
with Nukhashshe, a name that designated those parts of Asia Minor and Syria
where mining and metallurgy are believed to have originated;172 the same word is the common Semitic
root for copper and its alloys, and it is the Egyptian name for the Ethiopians,
usually translated as “the Blacks,” nḥsy. According to their own report and universal folklore,
these traveling menders of pots and pans must keep traveling because they
are under a curse. “They are the Gypsies,” says a very old Judaeo-Christian
writing, “who carry loads, and they march on the roads with their backs
and necks breaking under their loads, and they wander round to the doors of
the children of their brethren.”173 They beguile their outcast condition
with wild music and dancing, and they are the Cainites of old who enticed
the righteous Sethians, called “the Children of God,” to join in
their revels and so fall from grace in the days of Jared.174 Their special mark
is not the blackened face and hands, however, but a tattoo on the hand or
arm, a Tau-sign or a circle and cross. In Genesis it is the brand of Cain,
ancestor of the Kenites, and in Ezekiel it is the divine mark set on the brows
of all just men.175
According to a midrash, God placed a letter of the alphabet on Cain’s hand
as a mark, so that no one would slay him,176 and some of the Jewish doctors maintained that “the ‘Sign
of Cain’ was the mark on David’s brow.”177
Certain it is that “the mark of Cain” goes along with a cursing,
a wandering way of life, and a distinctive mark on the body.
Black persons occasionally turn up in
reception scenes such as our Facsimile 3, for example, in the tombs of the
Courtiers, of the Engravers, or Setnakht, of Tauser, of Ramses IX, etc.,
where they represent persons of honor from servants to the gods themselves,
for Isis, Osiris, and Horus are all shown at times with black faces. When
we see the black man Bak-en-Mut in his own funeral papyrus standing before
a black Osiris seated upon the throne, the blackness is no mere whim of the
artist, but is meant to be taken seriously, since the black Osiris is wearing
not the usual Atef crown, as in countless other such scenes, but only the
white crown of the South.178
In other papyri showing the same scene, the black Osiris is always wearing
that white crown alone, making the black connection a positive one.179 In the drawings and texts, which
are numerous, the proportion of black to white seems to follow no pattern
but that of a society in which the races mingle freely and equally. If Senusret
III has contempt for his black enemies, the great pharaohs of the Eighteenth
Dynasty speak with no less contempt of their Asiatic foes.180 Even among the Egyptian
slave population the blacks are far outnumbered by the Asiatics, and no distinction
is made between them in the record.181 The stock representations by the
Egyptians of “the four races” (Egyptian, Asiatic, Black, European-Berber)
have, according to Brugsch, “completely lost . . . any special
significance” by the New Kingdom. “The old names still appear on
the monuments, but rarely and without the slightest indication of race distinction.”182
We are fortunate in possessing an impressive
gallery of royal portraits, to say nothing of an even more impressive line
of royal mummies, male and female, dating from the earliest dynasties right
down to the end. Among them are a few black African types, showing that if
black did not prevent one from becoming pharaoh, neither was it a requirement.183
There was simply no prejudice in the matter. There is a tradition that the
most precious gift of Pharaoh to Abraham was a black servant from the king’s
household, who became inseparably attached to Abraham, and even resembled
him like a twin.184 This recalls Abraham’s
marriage to Hagar, traditionally a servant or even a daughter of Pharaoh,
whose son Ishmael shared equal honors with Isaac, even to receiving the great
promise of becoming the father of many nations. When Judah’s son refused to
accept a Canaanite woman for his wife because of her race, according to the
book of Jubilees, God smote
him. When Judah himself tried to take advantage of the same woman as an inferior,
God smote him too.185
In the ancient records the blood of Ham
is a mixture, always containing more white than black. The mingling of Egyptian
and Canaanite is attested in a number of ancient sources,186 as in Abraham 1:21. Josephus tells
us that the countries occupied by Ham stretched “from Syria and Mounts
Amanus and Lebanon to the ocean.”187 And while Ham is the ancestor of
Pharaoh in Genesis 10:6—20, the line also includes the Philistines,
from whom Palestine gets its name.188 Recent studies of the genealogy of
Cain by Johannes Gabriel189 and Robert North190
emphasize the claims of such desert tribes as the Kenites and the families
of Kenaz and Caleb to belong to the family. Though the Hamites are as conspicuously
Asiatic as African,191 the oldest African stocks as well—Libyans, Tehennu, Berber—were
not only white, but often referred to as pale-skinned and red-headed. Joseph
Karst detected an extension of “the chain of Hamite people: Kushites,
Egyptoids and Libyo-Hamites,” in enclaves all over the Mediterranean
and the islands clear to Spain.192
Linguistic evidence intertwines Hamites and Semites the further back in time
one goes, their vigorous rivalry being evidenced in the earliest Egyptian
hieroglyphics, as shown by Hans Stock.193 Werner Vycichl finds Semitic traits in the beginning in North
Africa, “perhaps due to a wave of Hamitic tribes coming from Asia via
the Strait of al-Qantara as the Arabs came later.”194 “The Hamitic invasion,” he concludes, “certainly
came from the East,” though “originally . . . the Hamitic
languages were not a single block as were the Semitic.”195
These few observations, kept to a minimum,
should be enough to make it clear that there is no exclusive equation between
Ham and Pharaoh, or between Ham and the Egyptians, or between the Egyptians
and the blacks, or between any of the above and any particular curse. What
was denied was recognition of patriarchal right to the priesthood made by
a claim of matriarchal succession.
The one figure in the facsimiles over
which the experts have hesitated longest and disagreed most widely is figure
6, which some declared to be a mistake and others an outright forgery. Devéria
suggested long ago that it was “an unknown divinity, probably Anubis,
but the head has been altered.”196 Yet one professional Egyptologist
declared that the artist had “marred the head, which was meant to be
the unshaven head of a priest,” and another saw in it a dead man’s “double,
and black figure, who was created at the time of his birth”;197
for yet another it is the monster Amentit, in the very act of seizing his
victim. Each expert could justify himself by pointing to one or more parallel
compositions. Such a figure appears without a jackal’s head in the tombs of
the courtiers studied by Petrie.198
In some Theban tombs black figures like this one have cat’s faces and others
wear masks, and one might be tempted to see a cat’s head on figure 6 were
it not that just such male figures with just such little pointed objects on
their heads, representing cones of perfume, turn up frequently in other party
scenes. But our figure 6 is different from all of those, and there was no
reason on earth for the artist to fake it, since he made not the slightest
attempt to have any of the other figures resemble characters from the Abraham
drama, and we now know from possessing the original of Facsimile 1 that Hedlock
was on the whole a careful and accurate copyist.
Next to his blackness, the most striking
thing about Olimlah is his position behind Shulem—who is not his master.
The pose occurs quite frequently elsewhere, though we have not discovered
it in any Facsimile 3 parallel. It always signifies that the person is given
support, moral or otherwise, by another, “standing behind him in an attitude
of protection.”199 Radwan has pointed out that at coronation rites every segment
of the population under Pharaoh’s sway had to be represented. In our Facsimile
3 the prince, at the king’s wish, sponsors his servant Shulem’s presentation
to the distinguished visitor Abraham and has instructed his servant Olimlah
to join in with his support as well.
Here a word on Olimlah’s name is in order. Since the letter “r” is the
weakest sound in Egyptian and the most subject to shifts and changes, slipping
all the way from the weak vowels “a” and “e” to the sound
of “l” (a very frequent exchange), and since in Egyptian as in Semitic
languages in general an “o” must be represented by a “w,”
it is by no means extravagant to see in Ol-im-lah such a perfectly good Egyptian name as Wr-imn-ra, “Great is Amon”—a real name,200 or a name formed on the very old
pattern of Wr-ir-n(m)-Ptah, “Great is the begotten of Ptah,” or
Wr-n(i)-Ra, “I magnify Ra.”201
Any Other Suggestions?
The story of the pioneer Lady is not to
be found in histories of Egypt; that is why we have been at pains to tell
it at some length. Are there any other stories, then, that might take its
place, any other tales of how the land was settled? Surprisingly, there are
only two serious competitors, one literary, the other archaeological, that
upon examination end up giving the Lady their full support.
First the literary version. The written
record refers constantly to the “Followers of Horus” (šmsw-Hr), who came from Asia to Egypt along the Road or “Way of Horus,”
which was the land route along the coast from Canaan. The Pyramid Texts contain
many lively little vignettes of life on the march with Horus—preparing
the king’s camp at evening, setting up his tent, the mess call, etc.202 The followers are
designated by the ideograms of the bow, staff, and boomerang, and the presence
of the omnipresent hawk and faithful dog (wep-wawet) who go ahead and find out the way.203 Need we add that Horus and his company
advance through virgin territory amid tremendous tempests of wind, thunder,
lightning, and meteoric displays?204 Or that the standard of Isis leads
the procession,205 or that the hero shares his tent
with the Vulture Mother of Upper Egypt, the Lady Nekhbet?206
Those who have made a special study of
the Followers of Horus moving to Egypt along the Way of Horus all insist that
the legend is by no means fiction. There was “absolutely nothing mythological”
about these pioneers, according to Sethe; and the story of how Horus enters
the land and takes possession “contains not the slightest trace of any
mythological connections whatever.”207 The Egyptians always looked back
with pride on their pioneer ancestors and held them up as examples of solid,
old-fashioned virtues to their children: “A son who hearkens to his father
is like a Follower of Horus, who succeeds in life because he follows the rules;
he reaches old age and the dignity of an elder.”208 The familiar hawk, hound, bows, boomerangs,
royal litter, and tent were no mere heraldic symbols, but viewed as “completely
real,” and brought out for full-scale dramatization of the event on every
Founders’ Day, a semiannual festival mentioned in the very earliest of Egyptian
records as celebrating the year of the “Followers of Horus.”209 What puzzled scholars initially about this was that the title
“Followers of Horus” in these inscriptions was regularly written
with the ideogram of a ship.
How come, if they came by land?210
The explanation was easily found and not
disputed: The ship recalls the king’s sailing upon the Nile to take possession
of the country after his overland journey (fig. 91). That, too, was part
of the celebration. To commemorate their coronation, the Thinite kings (i.e.,
of the first two dynasties) were carried about in a procession “like
Horus in his venerable ship,” as the formula went. This can only mean,
as Sethe notes, “a festival procession . . . in which the god’s
vessel was carried about.”211 He was carried by followers wearing the jackal masks of Wep-wawet,
the land rover,212 and the procession
also wound through the mountains, but the weapon he bore was the Horus spear,
a harpoon with a hawk’s-head point, showing conquest by water as well as land
The oldest historical record of the pharaohs, the famous Palermo Stone (fig.
93), shows us, in the words of Alan H. Gardiner, that “every second year
saw the occurrence of a ‘Following of the Horus,’ which, whether as an actual
Royal Progress by river or as a merely reminiscent ceremony, certainly recalled
those historic voyages in which the king proceeded northwards to bring about
the unification of the Two Lands.”214 Earliest of all, the Followers of Horus turn up on the prehistoric
memorial tablets from royal graves of the First Dynasty at Abydos, where again
the title is always written with the sign of the ship.215
These last were the work of the so-called
Naqada II civilization of Egypt, the people who, archaeologists agree, were
the first to bring authentic Egyptian civilization to the land. “Where
they came from we do not know,” wrote Elise J. Baumgartel, “nor
how they entered Egypt. They must have had connections with the Sumerian civilisation,”
that is, through some unknown and remote common source.216 These, according to
Hans A. Winkler, were the “Standard People” whose tribal emblems
mounted on standards led them on the march as Followers of Horus.217 They spoke a West Semitic language
akin to the Hamitic of Naqada I. Baumgartel finds that their pottery “may
be of Palestinian origin.”218 But were not their relatives of the
Naqada I culture the real first settlers in the land? No, they did not live
in the valley, but in the high country on either side of it; the valley proper
was not inhabited at all until the Naqada II people moved in.219
The latter were the “Dynastic Race” who greatly exceeded “the
original inhabitants in intelligence. . . . Hence the enormous
jump from the primitive Predynastic Egypt to the advanced civilization of
the Old Empire.”220
Now it was these Naqada II people who
produced a large number of those splendid pots on which are depicted the great
ceremonial barges sailing the river with the oversize figure of the dancing
goddess looming over all else (fig. 94),221 from which it would seem that the
written and archaeological records alike tend to confirm, and at no point
refute, the tradition of the Pioneer Lady and her Royal Son. As a clincher
we are confronted with a complication that Werner Kaiser finds disturbing
and that has never been explained, namely, that the primitive standards of
Horus and his followers seem to be the same as the equally ancient standards
For a general view of the archaeological
evidence, Walter B. Emery’s Archaic Egypt may serve as a convenient guide. Four main points
may be noted confirming the story of the Lady. First, the dynastic race was
a reality, with the sudden appearance of a full-blown Egyptian civilization
coming from some as-yet-undiscovered homeland by way of the Wadi Hammamat
(fig. 95) to Coptos; also, the occupation was definitely from south to north.223 Second, in the earliest court/coronation
scene, King Narmer, father of Hor-Aha if not Hor-Aha himself (the founder
of the First Dynasty), sits enthroned under the outspread wings of a huge
vulture (Mut the Mother), while a woman sits facing him at his own level in
a booth mounted for carrying in a procession (fig. 96). His tomb at Sakkara
was notably smaller than that of his mother, Nit-hotep (Neith has settled).
Compared with her tomb, that of Narmer, whom Emery takes to be her husband,
“is almost insignificant.”224 Hor-Aha’s son was succeeded on the
throne by a woman, Meryet-Nit (the Power of Neith); her name was written by
the two crossed arrows on a staff (fig. 97).225 Always “Hathor was . . .
a female counterpart of Horus,”226 and the king was Horus, who belonged
to the Bee and the Nebti, the Two Ladies, to satisfy both the North and the
South. Third, boats predominate in the graves (fig. 98), large wooden boats;
the Queen-Mother Nit-hotep had “a large brick-built boat grave”
for a full-sized ship,227 and Meryet-Nit’s ship-master was
found near her with model boats.228 Zer, the third king, is shown paying
ritual visits to the shrines of Buto and Sais by boat.229 “We know nothing
of the origin of Horus,” the only clue being his big ship, “as early
as the commencement of the First Dynasty.”230 Fourth, the settlement, which brought
a completely developed writing system, “immense and intricate structures,”
and advanced technology and high artistic achievement with it,231
set foot in the South, and from there moved to the North, taking over the
Henri Gauthier, Le personnel du dieu Min (Cairo: BIFAO, 1931), 1; Henri Gauthier, Les
fêtes du dieu Min (Cairo: BIFAO,
1931), 17, 288—90.
Gauthier, Fêtes du dieu Min, 17, 288—90.
Gauthier, Personnel du dieu Min, 2; Alessandra Nibbi, “Remarks on the Two Stelae
from the Wadi Gasus,” JEA 62 (1976): 55.
Gauthier, Personnel du dieu Min, 3, 7—8; Gauthier, Fêtes du dieu Min, 103—4, 194.
Gauthier, Fêtes du dieu Min, 289.
Gerald A. Wainwright, “The Origin of the Storm-Gods
of Egypt,” JEA 49 (1963):
Gauthier, Fêtes du dieu Min, 189—91.
Harris Papyrus 6:1—7; 3, plates 25—26,
in E. A. Wallis Budge, Egyptian Hieratic Papyri in the British Museum (London: Trustees of the British Museum, 1910),
Gauthier, Fêtes du dieu Min, 234—35.
Paul Guiyesse and Eugène Lefébure, Le Papyrus
funeraire de Soutimes (Paris:
Leroux, 1978), plate xvii commentary, p. 10, no. 14.
Wainwright, “Origin of the Storm-Gods of Egypt,”
Eugène Lefébure, “Les huttes de Cham,”
BE 36 (1915): 216—17.
Pausanius, Description of Greece X, 32, 18.
Gauthier, Fêtes du dieu Min, 61—63; Lefébure, “Huttes de Cham,”
Joachim Spiegel, Die Götter von Abydos (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1973), 66, 71—72.
Gauthier, Fêtes du dieu Min, 282.
Gauthier, Personnel du dieu Min, 4.
Gauthier, Fêtes du dieu Min, 142—43.
Lefébure, “Huttes de Cham,” 220.
Gauthier, Fêtes du dieu Min, 283.
Lefébure, “Huttes de Cham,” 211—12.
Alan H. Gardiner, Egyptian Grammar (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1957), 503.
Eugène Lefébure, “Le Cham et l’Adam Égyptiens,”
BE 35 (1912): 9.
Herodotus, History II, 99.
Gauthier, Fêtes du dieu Min, 34.
Gauthier, Personnel du dieu Min, 77—78.
Lefébure, “Huttes de Cham,” 234.
Gauthier, Fêtes du dieu Min, 15; James H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt,
5 vols. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1906—1907), 1:58, 65.
Hugh W. Nibley, “Tenting, Toll, and Taxing,”
Western Political Quarterly 19 (1966): 609—12; reprinted in The Ancient State, CWHN 10 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1991):
Gauthier, Personnel du dieu Min, 84—85; Spiegel, Götter von Abydos, 66, 68, 75—76.
Gauthier, Fêtes du dieu Min, 20.
Spiegel, Götter von Abydos, 67, 69—70.
Constantin E. Sander-Hansen, Die Texte der Metternichstele
(Copenhagen: Munksgaard, 1956),
Spiegel, Götter von Abydos, 67.
Source not found: see preface.
Sander-Hansen, Texte der Metternichstele, 49.
Spiegel, Götter von Abydos, 72, 74.
Gauthier, Fêtes du dieu Min, 209.
Spiegel, Götter von Abydos, 66.
Theodor Gaster, “The Egyptian ‘Story of Astarte’
and the Ugaritic Poem of Baal,” Bibliotheca Orientalis 9 (1952): 82—85; Hugh W. Nibley, “The
Arrow, the Hunter, and the State,” Western Political Quarterly 19 (1966): 338—39; reprinted in The Ancient
State, CWHN 10:5—6.
Gauthier, Fêtes du dieu Min, 217—18.
Cf. Lefébure, “Huttes de Cham,” 210, 212.
Gauthier, Fêtes du dieu Min, 286; Lefébure, “Huttes de Cham,” 219.
Spiegel, Götter von Abydos, 70—71.
Lefébure, “Huttes de Cham,” 217 (Louvre
Ibid., 215, 217—18.
Lefébure, “Cham et l’Adam Égyptiens,” 8,
Lefébure, “Huttes de Cham,” 218, 220.
Hermann te Velde, Seth, God of Confusion (Leiden: Brill, 1967), 48—49.
Alan H. Gardiner, The Library of A. Chester Beatty
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1931), 26.
Lefébure, “Huttes de Cham,” 219.
Gauthier, Fêtes du dieu Min, 201.
Lefébure, “Cham et l’Adam Égyptiens,” 9.
Gauthier, Fêtes du dieu Min, 89.
Lefébure, “Cham et l’Adam Égyptiens,” 12.
Gauthier, Fêtes du dieu Min, 201—3; quotation on 202.
Ibid., 203; W. Golenischeff, “Une excursion
à Berenice,” RT 13 (1890):
Gauthier, Fêtes du dieu Min, 230—31.
Herodotus, History II, 91.
Lefébure, “Huttes de Cham,” 213.
Cf. Lefébure, “Cham et l’Adam Égyptiens,”
Te Velde, Seth, God of Confusion, 48—49.
Plutarch, De Iside et Osiride, 19.
Lefébure, “Cham et l’Adam Égyptiens,” 7—8.
Francis L. Griffith, Stories of the High Priests
of Memphis (Oxford: Clarendon,
Sander-Hansen, Texte der Metternichstele, 47.
Griffith, Stories of the High Priests of Memphis,
Lefébure, “Huttes de Cham,” 219.
Spiegel, Götter von Abydos, 68.
Ibid., 68—69; Rudolf Anthes, “Egyptian
Theology in the Third Millennium B.C.,”
JNES 18 (July 1959): 207.
Sander-Hansen, Texte der Metternichstele, 43—44.
Lefébure, “Huttes de Cham,” 211—12;
Hans Bonnet, “Geissel,” in Reallexikon der ägyptischen Religionsgeschichte
(Berlin: de Gruyter, 1952), 465.
Lefébure, “Huttes de Cham,” 215—16.
Siegfried Schott, ed., “Das Buch von der Abwehr
des Bösen,” in Urkunden mythologischen Inhalts, vol. 6, part 1, in Urkunden des ägyptischen
Altertums, ed. Kurt H. Sethe
and Heinrich Schäfer (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1929), 136.
Lefébure, “Huttes de Cham,” 219.
Sander-Hansen, Texte der Metternichstele, 47.
Bonnet, Reallexikon der ägyptischen Religionsgeschichte,
Gauthier, Personnel du dieu Min, 69—70.
Plutarch, Iside et Osiride, 56; Gauthier, Fêtes du dieu Min, 33.
Gauthier, Fêtes du dieu Min, 34—35; Bonnet, Reallexikon der ägyptischen
Gauthier, Fêtes du dieu Min, 160—72, 288.
Gauthier, Personnel du dieu Min, 123; Lefébure, “Huttes de Cham,” 226—27.
Gauthier, Personnel du dieu Min, 114—16.
Strabo, Geography XVII, 1, 46.
Gauthier, Personnel du dieu Min, 28.
Gauthier, Fêtes du dieu Min, 8—9.
Ibid., 11, 61.
Te Velde, Seth, God of Confusion, 27—32, 44.
Lefébure, “Huttes de Cham,” 211, 229.
Gauthier, Fêtes du dieu Min, 227—28, 230—31.
Ibid., 239, no. 1.
Lefébure, “Cham et l’Adam Égyptiens,” 11.
Louis Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews, 7 vols. (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society,
1909—13), 1:177—78, 318—19.
Lefébure, “Huttes de Cham,” 230.
Strabo, Geography XVII, 1, 46; cf. Hugh W. Nibley, “A New Look
at the Pearl of Great Price,” IE
72 (February 1969): 64.
Lefébure, “Huttes de Cham,” 233.
Gauthier, Fêtes du dieu Min, 236—37, 266—67.
Wolfgang Richter, “Urgeschichte und Hoftheologie,”
Biblische Zeitschrift 10 (1966): 99.
Ibid., 115; F. M. Theodor de Liagre Böhl, “Babel
und Bibel (I),” JEOL 16 (1959): 115.
Jubilees 9:14, in The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, ed. Robert H. Charles, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon,
Jubilees 10:29—33; Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews, 1:172.
Emil G. H. Kraeling, “The Earliest Hebrew Flood
Story,” Journal of Biblical Literature 66 (1947): 291; Graves and Patai, Hebrew Myths, 121.
E. A. Wallis Budge, ed., The Book of the Cave
of Treasures (London: Religious
Tract Society, 1927), 118—19, 121.
A. Epstein, “Les Chamites de la table ethnographique
selon le Pseudo-Jonathan,” REJ 24 (1892): 85.
Louis I. Newman, Hasidic Anthology (New York: Scribner, 1944), 297.
Victor Aptowitzer, “Les premiers possesseurs
de Canaan,” REJ 82 (1926):
Georg Fohrer, “Israels Haltung gegenüber den
Kanaanäern und anderen Völkern,” Journal of Semitic Studies 13 (1968): 64—75.
Anthes, “Egyptian Theology in the Third Millennium
Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History XL, 3, 1—3.
Alexandre Moret, Du caractère religieux de la
royauté pharaonique (Paris:
Leroux, 1902), 57.
Nahman Avigad and Yigael Yadin, eds., A Genesis
Apocryphon (Jerusalem: Hebrew
University Press, 1956), col. 20:21—29.
156. Nibley, “A New Look
at the Pearl of Great Price,” IE 73 (April 1970): 80—82;
in this volume, pp. 346—51.
Joseph and Asenath, in Paul Riessler, Altjüdisches Schrifttum ausserhalb
der Bibel (Heidelberg: Kerle,
1957), 497—538. For an English translation, see C. Burchard, trans.,
Joseph and Aseneth, in James
H. Charlesworth, ed., The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, 2 vols. (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1985), 2:177—247.
Joseph and Asenath 8:9—10, in Riessler, Altjüdisches Schrifttum
ausserhalb der Bibel, 505—6.
Joseph and Asenath 10:2—13:12, in ibid., 506—12.
Joseph and Asenath 14:3—15, in ibid., 514—15.
Joseph and Asenath 15:4, in ibid., 516.
Joseph and Asenath 15:5—7, in ibid., 516.
Joseph and Asenath 21:1—9, in ibid., 525—26.
Joseph and Asenath 21:5, in ibid., 526.
Joseph and Asenath 21:6—7, in ibid.
Joseph and Asenath 21:7, in ibid., 526.
Joseph and Asenath 22:1—13, in ibid., 526—28.
Micha J. bin Gorion, Die Sagen der Juden, 5 vols. (Frankfurt: Rütten & Loening, 1913—27),
Zacharie Mayani, Les Hyksos et le monde de la
Bible (Paris: Payot, 1956),
Robert Eisler, Iēsous Basileus
ou Basileusas, 2 vols. (Heidelberg:
Winters, 1929), 2:180.
Ibid., 2:180, 217.
Mayani, Hyksos et le monde de la Bible, 179.
Budge, Book of the Cave of Treasures, 120—21.
Ibid., 87—93; Le combat d’Adam et Eve, in J.-P. Migne, Dictionnaire des Apocryphes I, vol. 23 of Encyclopedie théologique, ser. 3 (Paris: Chez l’editeur, 1856), 349—52.
Graves and Patai, Hebrew Myths, 96—97.
Bin Gorion, Sagen der Juden, 1:136, 239—40.
Robert North, “The Cain Music,” Journal
of Biblical Literature 83 (1964):
Alexandre Piankoff, Mythological Papyri II, vol. 3 of Bollingen Series 40, Egyptian Tests
and Representations (New York:
Pantheon, 1957), plate 12.
Ibid., plates 20, 24.
Alan H. Gardiner, Egypt of the Pharaohs (Oxford: Clarendon, 1961), 37.
Abd Bakir, Slavery in Pharaonic Egypt (Cairo: BIFAO, 1952), 72, 97—99. (Cahier no.
18, in Supplement to ASAE.)
Heinrich K. Brugsch, Die Geographie der Ägypter
nach den Denkmälern, Geographie
Inschriften altägyptischer Denkmäler, vol. 6 (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1860), 51.
Pierre Montet, Eternal Egypt (New York: New American Library, 1964), plates 26—64.
Geza Vermes, “Sepher ha-Yashar,” cited
in Scripture and Tradition in Judaism (Leiden: Brill, 1961), 73; Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews, 1:203, 292—94.
René Dussaud, “Cham et Canaan,” RHR 59 (1909): 221—30.
Josephus, Antiquities I, 6, 2; cf. Epstein, “Chamites de la table
Richter, “Urgeschichte und Hoftheologie,”
Johannes Gabriel, “Die Kainitengenealogie, Gen.
40 (1959): 409—27.
North, “Cain Music,” 373—89.
Joseph Karst, “Aïa-Kolchis et les Chamites septentrionaux,”
Orientalia 3 (1934): 31—41.
Hans Stock, “Das Ostdelta Ägyptens in seiner
entscheidenden Rolle für die politische und religiöse Entwicklung des alten
Reiches,” Die Welt des Orients
Werner Vycichl, “Notes sur la préhistoire de
la langue égyptienne,” Orientalia 23 (1954): 217.
Théodule Devéria, “Fragments de manuscrits funéraires
égyptiens consiérés par les Mormons comme les mémoires autographes d’Abraham,”
Mémoires et Fragments (Paris: Leroux, 1896), published in BE 4 (1896): 201.
Nibley, “A New Look at the Pearl of Great Price,”
IE 71 (April 1968): 67—68.
William F. Petrie, Tombs of the Courtiers and
Oxyrhynchus (London: British
School of Archaeology in Egypt, 1925), plate 32.
Maxence de Rochemonteix, “Le temple d’Apet,”
RT 6 (1885): 25.
Hermann Ranke, Die Aegyptischen Personnennamen, 2 vols. (Glückstadt: Augustin, 1935—52),
Konrad Hoffmann, “Die theophoren Personnennamen
des älteren Ägyptens,” vol. 7 in Untersuchungen zur Geschichte und Altertumskunde
Aegyptens, 15 vols. (1915; reprint, Hildesheim: Olms, 1964), 51—52.
Pyramid Text 273—74 (§403—5); 690 (§2100),
in Raymond O. Faulkner, Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts (Oxford: Clarendon, 1969), 93, 299; Coffin Text
216, in Adriaan de Buck, ed., The Egyptian Coffin Texts, 7 vols. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
Kurt H. Sethe, Beiträge zur ältesten Geschichte
Ägyptens, vol. 3 in Untersuchungen zur Geschichte und Altertumskunde
Nibley, “Tenting, Toll, and Taxing,” 600;
in The Ancient State, CWHN 10:33—34.
Werner Kaiser, “Einige Bemerkungen zur ägyptischen
Frühzeit,” ZÄS 85 (1960):
Émile Massoulard, Préhistoire et protohistoire
d’Égypte (Paris: Institut d’ethnologie,
Sethe, Beiträge zur ältesten Geschichte Ägyptens,
Kaiser, “Einige Bemerkungen zur ägyptischen
Hans W. Helck, “Gegenstände aus der Umgebung
des Königs,” Anthropos
49 (1954): 972—77.
Sethe, Beiträge zur ältesten Geschichte Ägyptens,
Heinrich Schäfer, “Der Speer des Horus als Ruckenbrett
von Mumien und als Amulett,” ZÄS 41 (1904): 68—70.
Gardiner, Egypt of the Pharaohs, 414; Coffin Text 12, in de Buck, Egyptian Coffin
Sethe, Beiträge zur ältesten Geschichte Ägyptens,
Elise J. Baumgartel, “Some Notes on the Origin
of Egypt,” Archiv Orientalní
20 (1952): 281.
Hans A. Winkler, Völker und Völkerbewegungen im
vorgeschichtlichen Oberägypten im Lichte neuer Felsbilderkunde (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1937), 6—7.
Elise J. Baumgartel, The Cultures of Prehistoric
Egypt (Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 1947), 41.
D. E. Derry, “The Dynastic Race in Egypt,”
JEA 42 (1956): 85; Reginald
Engelbach, “An Essay on the Advent of the Dynastic Race in Egypt and
Its Consequences,” ASAE 42 (1943): 193—221.
Wolfhart Westendorf, Painting, Sculpture, and
Architecture of Ancient Egypt
(New York: Abrams, 1969), 15.
Kaiser, “Einige Bemerkungen zur ägyptischen
Frühzeit,” 121—22, 128.
Walter B. Emery, Archaic Egypt (Baltimore: Penguin, 1961), 38—42.
Ibid., 49—54; cf. 68.
231. Ibid., 177, 192, 222—24.
Ibid., 99—101, 119—21.