Anubis, the Jackal-god, the god of Embalmment

January 5, 2023

In this post we continue to look at some of the displays of the Egyptian Museum at Cairo, Egypt.

This statue of Anubis is situated on the cover of a casket in the form of a shrine. The shrine was on a litter used to carry the image of the god in processions.

Portable Simulacrum of Anubis. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

The Anubis Shrine was included in the burial equipment of Pharaoh Tutankhamun, otherwise known as King Tut. His tomb was discovered in the valley of the Kings in 1922 by Howard Carter, in the Treasure Room.

ANU′BIS (Ἄνουβις), an Egyptian divinity, worshipped in the form of a dog, or of a human being with a dog’s head. In the worship of this divinity several phases must be distinguished, as in the case of Ammon. It was in all probability originally a fetish, and the object of the worship of the dog, the representative of that useful species of animals. Subsequently it was mixed up and combined with other religious systems, and Anubis assumed a symbolical or astronomical character, at least in the minds of the learned.

( In W. Smith (Ed.), Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (Vol. 1, p. 218). Little, Brown, and Company.)

When this statue was discovered there was a scribe’s ivory tabled that had belonged to Meritaten, one of the six daughters of Akhenaten and Nefertiti.

In Egyptian mythology Anubis, represented with the head of a dog/hyena, often with the body of a man, was considered lord of the necropolis and oversaw embalming rites. He was responsible for guiding the dead in the underworld and presenting them before Osiris for the weighing of the heart.

The idolatrous veneration of the dog by the Egyptians is shown in the worship of their dog-god Anubis, to whom temples and priests were consecrated, and whose image was borne in all religious ceremonies. Cynopolis, the present Minieh, situated in the lower Thebais, was built in honour of Anubis. The priests celebrated his festivals there with great pomp.

(Watson, R. In A Biblical and Theological Dictionary (p. 314). Lane & Scott.).

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Hatshepsut, Egypt’s Female Pharaoh

December 30, 2022

The book of Exodus begins with the great affliction of Israel in Egypt as the setting. Hebrew male babies born at that time were literally under a death sentence from Pharaoh. Moses’s mother hid him three months– “But when she was no longer able to hide him, she took a papyrus basket for him and sealed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and set it among the reeds along the edge of the Nile” (Ex. 2:3, NET). In God’s good providence Pharaoh’s daughter had compassion on the Hebrew baby, and allowed him to live. She gave him the name Moses (2:10), and secured a Hebrew nurse, Moses’s mother! The New Testament records the faith of Moses’s parents as the motivation for their defiance of the king’s command (Heb. 11:23), as well as the faith that Moses made his own! (Heb. 11:24-28).

These events happened during Egypt’s Eighteenth Dynasty (Walter C. Kasier, Jr. dates this period, 1570-1320 BC, and dates Moses’ birth at 1526 BC, and the Exodus at 1446 BC). Using Egyptian chronology, this would place Moses’ birth during the last year of Amenhotep I (1546-1526) or the first year of Thutmose I (1526-1512). Many suggest that the princess, Pharaoh’s daughter who rescued baby Moses, was Hatshepsut, daughter of Thutmose I. Though not dogmatic, Kasier states, “There is no doubt, however, that the chronology suggested here would fit nicely with her, and that she was a most unusual person for her times, possessing a strong personality and unusual gift of leadership, which she eventually used to claim the throne for herself” (Kaiser, W. C., Jr. A History of Israel: from the Bronze Age through the Jewish Wars, p. 88. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1998.

She reigned as Pharaoh in Egypt c. 1503-1483 BC [Note: scholarly dates on Egyptian chronology vary; this does not impact the historicity of scripture]. In his newly published Origins of the Hebrews, Douglas Petrovich concludes, “All of the evidence points to Hatshepsut as the best candidate for Moses’s stepmother” (Petrovich, Douglas. Origins of the Hebrews, p. 148. Nashville, TN: New Creation, 2021).

Hatshepsut, Egyptian Museum, Cairo. Photo ©Leon Mauldin

This head of Hatshepsut is from one of her Osirian statues from the pillared facade of the portico of the upper terrace of her temple at Deir el-Bahri.

It is possible that she was the pharaoh’s daughter who rescued the baby Moses (Ex. 2:1–10). If Moses was born ca. 1530, the pharaoh who decreed the death of all Hebrew male babies would have been Thutmose I, Hatshepsut’s father. Moses would have grown up during the reigns of Thutmose I and Thutmose II (Hatshepsut’s husband), and with Hatshepsut’s sponsorship he could have attained the prominence that later tradition attributed to him (cf. Acts 7:22; Josephus Ant. ii.10).

(Shea, W. H. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised Vol. 2, p. 233).

Hatshepsut certainly left her imprint, much of which can still be viewed today. Her mortuary temple is located in Thebes (at Deir el-Bahri) on the western bank of the Nile. “The temple at Deir el-Bahri remains Hatshepsut’s most enduring monument. Built of limestone and designed in a series of terraces set against the cliff wall in a bay formed naturally by river and wind action, the temple called ‘Holy of Holies’ (djeser djeseru) was Hatshepsut’s most complete statement in material form about her reign” (Shaw, Ian. The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, p. 232. Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press, 2000).

The Valley of the Kings, burial site of the Pharaohs of the 18th Dynasty, is located behind Hatshepsut’s temple and cliff in our photo.

Hatshepsut’s Mortuary Temple at Deir el-Bahri. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Pharaoh Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II

December 23, 2022

The fall of Egypt’s Old Kingdom occurred towards the end of the reign of Pepi II, during a time of political disruption and famine. Scholars place Pharaoh Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II at the beginning of Egypt’s Middle Kingdom. The 11th dynasty is divided into two parts, the first concluding the Old Kingdom, and the second part ushering in the Middle Kingdom, with Mentuhotep II as its first king (r. ca. 2065-2014 BC). (To keep things interesting, Baines & Malek state that Nebhepetre Mentuhotep is “called I or II by different writers.” They date his reign at c. 2016-2010 BC. Source: Ancient Egypt, The Cultural Atlas of the World, p. 35).

Pharaoh Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. Photo ©Leon Mauldin

With the fall of the Old Kingdom, there was initially a period of disunity, the First Intermediate Period, during which time two rival kingdoms co-existed in a state of mutual hostility. But in the year ca. 2025 BC, under the leadership of Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II, the Theban armies were victorious over Lower Egypt. Consequently he was looked upon as the great unifier of the Two Lands (Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt), the great monarch who reunified Egypt.

His statue was found in his funerary chamber under the terrace of his mortuary temple at Thebes, at Deir el-Bahri. The statue retains sculptural traditional traits characteristic of the Old Kingdom.

The statue had been wrapped in a linen cloth and seems to have been painted black just before it was buried. It represents Mentuhotep seated, wearing he red crown and enveloped in the white jubilee mantel which barely reaches to the king’s knees. His black skin and his beard curved at the end like the beards of the gods, as well as the position of his arms crossed on his chest, place him in relation to the god Osiris with whom the king was identified after death.

The Egyptian Museum Cairo, eds Prestel-Verlag and Philipp von Zabern, #67.

Ian Shaw writes:

In addition to the emphasis on his lineage, part of Mentuhotep’s strategy to enhance his reputation with his contemporaries and successors was a programme of self-deification. He is described as “the son of Hathor” on two fragments from Gebelein, while at Dendera and Aswan he usurped the headgear of Amun and Min . . . Evidence from his Deir el-Bahri temple indicates that he intended to be worshipped as a god in his House of Millions of Years, thus pre-dating by hundreds of years ideas that became a central religious preoccupation of the New Kingdom. It is evident that he was reasserting the cult of the ruler.

The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, pgs. 151-152.

Ka-aper, the Sheikh el Beled

December 21, 2022

We continue to explore some of the exhibits in the Egyptian Museum at Cairo. It is believed that Ka-aper served during the beginning of the 5th dynasty of the Old Kingdom, probably during the reign of Pharaoh Userkaf, (c. 2475-2467 BC). His statue was discovered in 1860 in a mastaba at Sakkara, near the pyramid of Pharaoh Userkaf. “Userkaf, whose reign lasted for only seven years, may have come to the throne as an old man” (Shaw, The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, p. 109). This life size statue, made of sycamore, is said to be the most celebrated statue of the Old Kingdom.

Ka-aper’s role was that of chief lector-priest, in charge of reciting prayers for the deceased in temples and funerary chapels.

Originally the statue was covered with painted plaster, some traces of which remain. The eyes were made of alabaster, crystal, and black stone and ringed with copper. The facial features are considered to be in the veristic artistic school rather than the idealistic.

Ka-aper, the Sheikh el Beled. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

One interesting note about the name, Sheikh el Beled: Upon its discovery the workers (under the oversight of the French archaeologist Auguste Mariette) saw a remarkable resemblance to the mayor of their village, translated in Arabic as “Sheikh al-Balad,” which means “chief of the village.” The name stuck!


Egypt’s Pharaoh Thutmose III

December 1, 2022

Thutmose III had a co-regency with Hatshepsut. When she died about 1483 BC he began his independent reign (of an additional 32 years). “At the end of some seventeen years of military campaigns, Thutmose III had successfully established Egyptian dominance over Palestine and had made strong inroads into southern Syria. His own reputation was assured, and the proceeds were extravagantly expended on behalf of the temples of Amun and other gods, as well as on those men who followed the king on his quests” (Betsy M. Bryan, The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, ed. Ian Shaw, p. 243).

Bust of Thutmose III, Egyptian Museum, Cairo. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Thutmose III recorded a detailed account of his Near Eastern campaign on the inside walls of the central hallway after the hypostyle hall at the Karnak Temple. These inscriptions describe specific episodes of the warfare and booty lists.

Thutmose III City List of Canaan Campaign, Karnak Temple. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

The earliest reference to Canaanite Megiddo:

. . . comes from the annals of the 18th Dynasty Pharaoh Thutmose III (r. 1479–1425 BC) inscribed on the walls of the Karnak temple complex in Luxor (ancient Thebes). Thutmose III campaigned into Canaan to quell a rebellion headed by an alliance of Canaanite leaders in the vicinity of Megiddo (appearing in the text as Ma-k-ta). The account indicates that Megiddo was strategically located near the opening of the Wadi Ara, referred to in the annals of Thutmose III as the Aruna pass. The pharaoh defeated the Canaanites, who then fled into the fortified city of Megiddo. Thutmose laid siege to the city and proclaimed that the taking of Megiddo is “the capture of a thousand towns”—a reference to the city’s strategic location (Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, 33). Thutmose III’s campaign marked the beginning of Egyptian hegemony over Canaan, characterized by the establishment of numerous Egyptian strongholds in the southern Levant (see Rainey, The Sacred Bridge, 65–69; compare Aharoni, Avi-Yonah, Rainey, and Safrai, The Carta Bible Atlas, 31–33). Megiddo became an Egyptian administrative center and military garrison. Megiddo also appears in Thutmose III’s list of conquered cities (also at the Karnak temple complex; Rainey, The Sacred Bridge, 72–73), and in a list of Canaanite emissaries attributed to Thutmose III (found in Papyrus Leningrad 1116-A).

Kelley, J. L. (2016). Megiddo. The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Lexham Press.

I’ve previously posted on Thutmose III here and here and here.

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Beth-shemesh in Judah

November 29, 2022

The city of Beth-shemesh was given to the Levites when they were given their possession by lot in the days of Joshua, following the Conquest of Canaan (Josh. 21:16). Years later, during the days of the Judges, the Philistines captured the ark in battle with Israel (1 Sam. 4), but when they were divinely punished they allowed the ark to return. The two cows pulling the cart from Philistian Ekron “headed straight for the road to Beth-shemesh” (1 Sam. 6:12).

Excavations at Beth-shemesh in Israel. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Later, in the days of the Divided Kingdom, King Amaziah (Judah) challenged King Jehoash (Israel) to battle. This may have been in retaliation for the destruction and looting carried out by the Israelite mercenaries Amaziah had hired, but then sent back home (2 Chron. 25:6-13). Beth-shemesh was the meeting point of the two armies, which resulted in Amaziah being soundly defeated. The theological reason is given by the inspired historian: “But Amaziah would not listen, for it was from God, that He might deliver them into the hand of Joash because they had sought the gods of Edom.” It was because of Amaziah’s idolatry that God orchestrated events to punish Amaziah. Ironically, it was after God had given Amaziah victory in battle against Edom that Amaziah then decided to worship the gods of Edom!

Panorama with Beth-shemesh in the foreground, looking north. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Ferrell Jenkins and I had the opportunity to briefly see Beth-shemesh this past March.

Some poppies at ancient Beth-Shemesh. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

I’ve previously posted on Beth-shemesh here and here.

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Senemut with Neferura

November 26, 2022

As we continue to explore some of the displays of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, we want to note the statue of Senenmut with Neferura.

Statue of Senemut with Neferura. Egyptian Museum. Photo ©Leon Mauldin

Senemut is said to be the “most favoured person of the reign of Hatshepsut” and “was also the most influential” (The Egyptian Museum Cairo, eds. Prestel-Verlag & Philipp von Zabern, Cat. no. 132).

Hatshepsut was famous as the female pharaoh (c. 1490-1470 BC), ruling in Egypt’s 18th dynasty.

Senemut (also Senmut) was promoted to the highest official positions and was honored with more than eighty titles. He was overseer of the Queen’s household and chancellor of the King of Lower Egypt. He was tutor to the princess Neferura (also Neferure), Hatshepsut’s only child (who apparently died about the 11th year of Hatshepsut’s reign). She is the child depicted in our statue above.

Senemut was the chief architect in charge of the construction of Hatshepsut’s great temple at Deir el-Bahari, considered to be his masterpiece.

Hatshepsut’s Mortuary Temple. Photo ©Leon Mauldin

The temple is unique among the many temples of Egypt.

Immediately behind the temple and its mountains is the Valley of the Kings. Photo here below shows panoramic view of the Valley of the Kings.

Valley of the Kings. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

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The KA of Pharaoh Awibre’ Hor

November 23, 2022

Pharaoh Awibre’ Hor, (Auibra-Hor, Hor Auyibre) ruled during Egypt’s 13th Dynasty (c. 1760 BC). There are few remaining monuments dating from this period, but the burial site of Awibre’ Hor, the third king of this dynasty, was found at Dahshur near the pyramid of Amenemhet III. Though it is thought that his reign lasted only a matter of months, his burial site was intact and contained a wooden shrine with a life-size wooden ka-statue of Awibre’ Hor. Our photo shows the Pharaoh with the uplifted arms of the hieroglyphic sign ka in his head.

Statue of the KA of King Awibre’ Hor. Egyptian Museum. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

According to Egyptologist Dr. Bob Brier, in Egyptian religious thought, the ba was “part of the soul, usually represented as having he head of a man and the body of a bird.” The ka was “part of the deceased’s soul that is thought of as a double.”

The ancient Egyptians believed that each individual was composed of five elements of immaterial nature: shadow, the akh (the spiritual form assumed by the gods and the dead), the ba (bringer of power and an emblem of each individual’s personality), a name (the identifier of each person), and the ka (the vital strength in each individual.

To ensure the life of the decease would continue after death, it was necessary to supply food and drink to the ka which went on living in the mummified body and that took possession of it every now and then to assimilate the essence of the offerings lfet in the tomb.

The statues placed in the burial chamber personified the vital force of the deceased and as such constituted a physical support for the ka. This was the function of the elegant wooden statue of the pharaoh Auibra-Hor, on whose head two open arms were shown to represent the hieroglyph used to indicate the ka . . . The statue was found inside a small wooden naos near the pyramid of Amenemhat III.

The Illustrated guide to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, eds. Bongioanni and Croce, p. 125

In Egyptian mythology, the Ka “remains with the being even after his death; this is why it was important to preserve the body so that the ka could occupy it when it desired and continue its life in the next world. The Ka-statue received oblations presented on an offering table at the foot of the false door” (The Egyptian Museum Cairo, Prestel-Verlag and Philipp von Zabern, Cat. no 117).

“The inlaid eyes lend a lifelike appearance to his expressive face. The rims of the eyes are of bronze, the pupils of rock crystal and the whites of quartz” (Ibid.).


Chapel with the Hathor Cow

November 11, 2022

As we continue to explore some of the displays in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, we look at the shrine dedicated by Tutmosis III to the goddess Hathor at Deir-el-Bahari.

Shrine dedicated to Hathor. Egyptian Museum. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

The goddess Hathor appears here in the form of a cow. This was excavated between the temples of Mentuhotep and Hatshepsut by E. Naville, of the Egypt Exploration Fund, 1906, and dates to the 18th dynasty (New Kingdom), at the end of the reign of Tutmosis III (c. 1504-1450) and the beginning of the reign of Amenophis II (c. 1453-1409).

The painting in the back shows Tutmosis III (left) pouring a libation and burning incense to Amon-Re, seated (at right). The dark blue vaulted ceiling depicts the stars of heaven.

The cult of the Sacred Cow was long associated with Hathor, the goddess of the Theban necropolis. Hatshepsut dedicated her sanctuary to the goddess. Prior to its excavation, earthquakes had buried the entrance to the chapel of the Sacred Cow.

The statue of the sacred cow in our photo bears the name of Tutmosis’s successor, Amenophis II. He is here depicted as crouching beneath the head of the sculpture. Hathor is surrounded by papyrus stems. She wears the Hathoric horns with the sun disk and a uraeus serpent on her forehead.

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Pharaoh Pepi I

November 10, 2022

Excavations at the temple of Horus at Hierakonpolis (ancient Nekhen) on the west bank of the Nile (north of Aswan, and south of Edfu), produced some remarkable finds, including a hollow-cast copper statue of Pepi I.

Copper statue of Pepi from the temple of Hierakonpolis. Egyptian Museum. Photo ©Leon Mauldin

Pepi I had a lengthy reign of about 50 years (c. 2283-2287 BC). His reign is in Dynasty 6, Old Kingdom. Numerous inscriptions record his influence and wealth.

“It is from Pepi’s funerary monument that the modern name of Memphis derives. His pyramid was called Mn-nfr, ‘[Pepi is] established and good'” (Clayton, Chronicles of the Pharaohs, p. 66).

To keep things interesting, Pepi married two daughters of a provincial prince of Abydos who both had the same name, Ankhnesmerire.

Pepi’s pyramid is at South Saqqara, and is badly smashed.

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