Monday, December 27, 2010

The Sun and the Moon in Genesis

Alice C. Linsley

A total eclipse of the moon occurred on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 slowly turning the silver moon into a crimson disk. A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth's tilt is such that it casts its shadow on the full moon and blocks the solar rays that reflect off the moon’s surface. This event also marked the winter solstice. It was the first total lunar eclipse to fall on a winter solstice in 372 years.

In the ancient world this celestial event would have been a portent whereby men of traditional wisdom interpreted messages from above.  The principal "as in the heavens so on earth" is part of the Christian worldview, though we usually don't consider this when we recite these words:  "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

For the Afro-Arabians, who were famous skywatchers, the eclipse of the moon was less significant than the eclipse of the sun because in their binary worldview the sun was regarded as superior to the moon. This was not an arbitrary preference for one over the other, but a description of reality since the sun gives light whereas the moon merely reflects the sun's light. Recognition of the sun's superiority is found in Genesis 1:16: "God made the two great lights: the greater to rule the day, the lesser light to rule the night."

In ancient Egyptian symbolism, the right eye is the Eye of Ra the Creator and represents the sun. The left is the Eye of Thoth and represents the moon. Together they are the Eyes of Horus, but the left (moon) is weaker than the right (sun). This is consistent with the binary worldview of Abraham's Afro-Arabian people and suggests why Abraham's father was accused of idol worship in Joshua 24:2: “In olden times, your forefathers – Terah, father of Abraham and father of Nahor – lived beyond the Euphrates and worshiped other gods.” The implication is that Terah, whose ancestors were Afro-Arabian, fell into worshiping contrary to his fathers’ tradition while living “beyond the Euphrates.” This is historically accurate since Abraham's Horite ancestors never worshiped the moon deity, Sin, as was done in Ur and Haran. To the Afro-Arabians this was idolatry since the moon was clearly the lesser celestial power.

The Afro-Arabian cosmology is binary, unlike Persian dualism. Within this binary framework there is consideration of the heavenly and hidden Third, so the angelic Three appear to Abraham at the time of his visitation in Mamre.  The Afro-Arabians had a name for the Three God: Baal Shalisha.

The sun and the moon were gendered in the Afro-Arabian way of thinking. The sun was associated with masculine virtues because solar rays inseminate the earth over which the sun has dominion. The moon was associated with feminine virtues because it is the sun's companion and because it influences the woman's monthly cycle. This is why the male rulers of ancient Egypt appeared with darkened skin, but their queens appeared with whitened skin.

In the Song of Songs the ruler's sister bride is described as having been "made white" (8:5) while her beloved has skin as dark "as the tents of Kedar" because, as with David, he was made to work in the sun by his older brothers. Kedar was a son of Ishmael by his Egyptian wife (Gen. 25:13).  The tents were woven of the wool of either black goats of North Sinai or red Nubian goats.

Temple architecture of ancient Egypt provides evidence that Egyptians observed solar eclipses over 4,500 years ago. The Zodiac of Dendera shows two disks in the constellation of Pisces. One is the moon and the other disk contains the Wadjet or Eye of Horus decorated with the markings of the eyes of a hawk, the totem of Horus.  When the right eye is shown it indicates a solar eclipse. David Smith explains that "a nearly total solar eclipse occurred on a date corresponding very closely to the actual depiction of the positions of the planets in the constellations and the position of the disk containing the Wadjet eye in 51 B.C. This symbolism reminds us of the myth of Horus losing an eye in his fight with Set and raises the possibility that this may have had its origins in a very early observation of a solar eclipse." (Smith, David G.,  Total solar eclipses in Ancient Egypt – a new interpretation of some New Kingdom texts.)

The solar eclipse also is portrayed in the ancient Egyptian myth of Apophis, the cosmic water serpent who attacks the Creator's solar boat in an attempt to devour it.  In ancient Egyptian mythology, Horus is victorious over the brother who seeks to destroy him, and Apophis is destroyed by Ra's cat (who we might call Aslan?)

Solar and lunar eclipses occur in cycles known as the Saros, and this was known in antiquity by peoples who apparently kept records over a long period.(Neugebauer, The Exact Sciences in Antiquity. Brown University Press, p. 195)

The Afro-Arabians are an example. While lunar eclipses are visible from any position on Earth where the moon is above the horizon, prediction of a solar eclipse before the event requires knowledge of the fixed geometry of the heavens.

Biblical archaeologists have recognized for years that the ancient Habiru (Hebrew) regarded the sun as Yahweh's emblem. They believed that the Moon was the lesser light and was not worshiped as God, though there was veneration for the Moon as a reflection of God's glory. Read about this here.

Likewise, in ancient Horite theology the Creator and his divine Son Horus were worshiped and Hathor-Meri, the mother of Horus, was at least venerated much as the Virgin Mary is venerated today in Christianity.

Related reading:  Roles Reversed in the Song of Songs?; The Nubian Context of YHWH; A Tent for the Sun; The Solar Imagery of the Proto-Gospel


Anonymous said...

Isn't worship of the Moon-god praticularly condemend in the Bible. Do you think that it is just a coincidence that Allah, from al-ilah, "the deity," was originally a phrase used for the Moon-god as the chief diety? It is my understanding that Mecca became his center of worhsip and the crecsent moon was his sign apearing throughout the archeological record. The Koran also seems to have been put togther as an assortment of writings to be in oppposition to Christianinty - especially the claim the Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Its interesting to me that the sign in opposition to the cross is the cresent.

Alice C. Linsley said...

The Koran is an interesting book, very unlike the Bible. The Koran is more akin to the Talmud than the Bible. And yes, both attempt to refute the claim of the Apostles and of Jesus Christ Himself that he is the Son of God who came into the world to call sinners to repentance and to grant those who believe in Him eternal life.

Mohammad himself broke with the pattern of Abraham by setting his two wives' apartments on an east-west axis. In the Bible only Lamech the Braggart did this (Gen. 4). Mohammad's orientation of his wives resulted from his alignment of his mosque in Medina to Jerusalem. The alignment was later changed to Mecca.