The True Identity of Akhenaten
Akhenaten was said to be the son of the Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep III and his queen Tiye. He was originally known as Amenhotep IV, but he changed his name during the 5th year of his reign to Akhenaten, which scholars translate as "horizon of the Aten". His older brother, Thutmose, is said to have died when they were both young children. Akhenaten eventually married the beautiful Nefrititi; we know she was beautiful partly because of the statues of her that have been discovered and partly because nefri means "beautiful". Akhenaten is most famous for having broken away from traditional Egyptian pantheistic beliefs and having worshipped instead a single sun-deity known as Aten. Akhenaten, in fact, built a new capital that he dedicated to Aten in Amarna, Egypt. He is believed to have possibly ascended to the thrown at the young age of 11 and to have ruled Egypt from Amarna for another 17 years or so.
Akhenaten was succeeded by his 9-year old son, Tutankhamun. Tutankhamun, however, was not his birth name. He was, like his siblings, originally named after Aten. He was called Tutankhaten, which scholars say meant "living image of Aten". When he officially became Pharaoh of Egypt, he was much too young to rule, and tragically he died before he reached the age of nineteen. Consequently, during the boy king's reign, the country was largely in the control of Tutankhamun's chief advisor, Ay. And it would be Ay who would, for four years after Tutankhamun's death, rule over Egypt until a new pharaoh eventually came to power.
That new pharaoh was known as Horemheb, which scholars translate as "Horus is celebrating". Hormheb was aptly named. Horus was the chief god of the traditional Egyptian pantheon of gods. Horemheb, who was in charge of the military, was also a devout believer in Horus and the original Egyptian pantheon. Consequently, Horemheb was adamantly opposed to the monotheistic religion of Akhenaten—so much so that, when he finally became pharaoh, Horemheb went out of his way to eliminate every trace of the former pharoah and his monotheistic religion. He would eventually select Paramese as his successor.
It is, at this point, worthwhile to know a little more about this so-called deity scholars call Aten. His name was not Aten but Adm. Scholars transliterate his name as Aten because scholars routinely transliterate the bun hieroglyph in his name as a t and the water wave hieroglyph in his name as an n. But the correct transliteration for those two hieroglyphs is actually d and m. For example, the land known as Goshen was actually the land of Koshem, where lived the descendents of Shem (AKA, the Semites or, more accurately, Shemites).
Adm was understood by his believers to be the first pharaoh. His name, in fact, was writen within a cartouche the very same way that all pharaoh's names, and only pharaoh's names, were written. Circling a name in a cartouche was intended to grant the name and the person so named eternal life. That is a rather interesting point, because that implies that Adm was not only perceived to have been a pharaoh, he was also seen as having been mortal.
It is also important to understand exactly what a pharaoh was. When I hear the word pharaoh, the image of Yul Brynner playing the role of Ramses in the classic movie The Ten Commandments immediately pops into my head. That is, in some ways, a good thing; however, in one way, it is a bad thing. That is because a pharaoh was not originally seen as a tyrant who was thrust upon an unwilling, subservient populace; rather, pharaohs, much like their ancient Greek counterparts, were seen simply as highly respected patriarchs of their people. In other words, a pharaoh was understood to be a father of a very large extended family. Thus Adm, who was considered the first pharaoh, was understood to be the oldest ancestor of those who believed in him. Sound at all familiar?
From the movie starring Yul Brynner and Charlton Heston, we also learn that Moses commanded Pharaoh famously to "let my people go!" But what many people do not know is that what Moses really did was ask Pharaoh to allow Moses and his people to go into the wilderness for a time. Why did Moses want Pharaoh to allow him and his people go into the wilderness? The answer Moses gave Pharaoh was that he and his people wanted to worship their god. You see, Moses and his people were being religiously persecuted; they were not being allowed to worship their god in the land of Koshen.
Now, here is the kicker. As stated before, scholars have translated the name Akhenaten as "the horizon of the Aten", which, according to Olin, looks plausible, provided that you equate Aten with the Sun. But his true name, however, was not Akhenaten but Akhen-adm, and his name, based on the language I call Olin, has a completely different meaning than what scholars give it. The name Akhen-adm, in fact, translates as "separation change surface movement related people out of related Adm". And that, for me, sounds like a fairly accurate and unmistakeable description of the Biblical exodus.
Akhen-adm's tomb was found in Armana, Egypt, but no mummy was ever found there, and the names of the people depicted in the decorations found within the tomb had been hacked away long ago by those who came to power shortly after Akhen-adm's reign. It appears to me that Akhen-adm was likely never burried there. In fact, I do not believe the 28-year old Akhen-adm simply died, leaving the thrown to his 9-year old son. Rather, I believe that Akhen-adm fled the land of Egypt. I also believe that he returned some 40 years later, during the reign of Seti I, with the goal of trying to restore the religious practices of those who believed themselves to be the descendants of Adm.
What Akhen-adm Knew
One needs the faith of Job at times, particularly when it seems that Satan is doing everything he can to shake oneís faith.
Is it possible to let go of long-held beliefs if one can be assured that such beliefs were not without purpose and that, in the final analysis, such beliefs, though perhaps errant, were in fact both noble and necessary?
The answer is that, as difficult as it may be, to truly honor God, one must be willing to throw down oneís sacred cows, one must be willing to humble oneself to the level of the non-believer, and one must be able to eventually rise up, confident, knowing that, despite the apparent changing of the seasons, oneís faith in God is justified.
Respecting truth is honoring God. How that truth is revealed is ultimately Godís choice. And the Bible is, truly, God's faithful witness.1
Every day (Adam = a day), the Sun moves across the sky. The Sun rises (Abel = "sunrise") above one horizon in the morning. In the evening, the Sun sets (Seth/Set = "sunset") below another. And when the morning eventually comes to an end, it is followed by darkness (Cain = "darkness/night"). 2 The ancient astronomers also noted long ago that the Sun was accompanied by the planet Venus (Eve = "Venus"), which rose just before the Sun rose and set just before the Sun set (rbb).3
Each day was understood to be much like the life of a person. Like the sunrise, we celebrate the birth of children (Abel). Like the evening, we mourn those we bury (Cain).
Concerning His Disappearance
The land of Koshem, where the Shemites lived, was within the Nile delta. Every year the Nile flooded, bringing with it rich soil from the lands to the South. Some of the farmers who lived in the land of Koshem realized that the annual flooding coincided with cyclical changes they observed in the night sky. Over the years, the annual flooding became associated with the heliacal rising of the star known as Sopdet (Sirius), which was closely associated with the deities known as Isis, Osiris and Horus.1
The ancient astronomers, however, long knew that the Sun also moved in a cyclical way, rising and setting in the North during the summer and then rising and setting in the South during the winter. It was clear to some that it was the Sun, not the star Sopdet, that was central to the changes being observed, not only in the Nile, but also in the weather and the length of each day.
The pharaoh known as Akhen-adm was, as a young man, educated by scholars his father hired from another land to the East, the land of Sumer, where astronomy had long been a science. He learned from them astronomy. He also learned from them many of their stories concerning mankind's past. And it was from his Sumerian instructors that Akhen-adm came to fully comprehend as well the central role that the Sun played, that all of the cycles of the world arose, not from the stars of the night (the countless children of Cain), but rather from the cycles of the Sunís movement.
The priests of the old school, however, refused to accept the new teaching. It ran counter to everything they knew and taught. It threatened their position within society, as it made them look very foolish, like they actually knew very little about the why of things. The priests realized that, if things didnít change soon, they would be forced to flee their temples for the safety of the wilderness or face certain death at the hands of the people.
Unable to tolerate the idea that they would lose the privileged status they enjoyed, the priests hatched a plan to put an end to Akhen-adm and his new "deity". They would effectively arrange to have Akhen-adm run out of town. And they would make sure that the people of Egypt believed that they and their co-conspirators were entirely justified in their actions. They would accomplish all of this my proving that Akhen-adm's mother, Tiye, was not of royal blood, that she was actually a Shemite, a descendant of foreigners who had settled in the land of Koshem.
Akhen-adm, however, was eventually informed of the plot. He knew that what the priests of Amun were planning to reveal about him and his mother was, in fact, true. He also knew that his claim to the throne rested entirely upon whether or not his mother could be shown to have been a true descendant of Ahmose-Nefertari, the first queen, from whom all Pharaohs descended. So, to protect his mother's honor and fearing for his own life, he fled Egypt.
The Rest of His Story
According to modern scholars, Akhen-adm disappeared from the Egyptian record in 1334 BCE and Seti I became Pharaoh of Egypt in 1294 BCE, exactly 40 years later. During those 40 years, the land of Egypt had essentially been ruled by one man, a Pharaoh named Horemheb. Horemheb had previously been head of the army during the brief reign of Ay. Upon becoming Pharaoh, Horemheb and his followers took systematic steps to eradicate the memory of Akhen-adm along with any lingering loyalty some may have still felt for Akhen-adm.
I also believe that, during Horemheb's reign, onerous grain quotas were placed on the farmers living in Koshem. Established in order to support a significantly larger army, the grain quotas left little for the farmers to sell, forcing many of their children to accept menial jobs for very little pay in order to survive. And this is what I believe happened as a result:
While living in the land of Midian, Akhen-adm learned of Horemheb's death. Having heard also of the onerous grain quotas that had previously been imposed upon the farmers in Koshem and the discontent it fomented, he realized that the time had come for him to return to Egypt, reclaim his throne and restore order to the land.
On his return to Egypt, Akhen-adm soon discovered, however, that Horemheb and the priests of Amun had taken numerous steps to poison Akhen-adm's memory within the people's hearts. They had, for example, arranged to have statues of Akhen-adm carved that were specifically intended to humiliate Akhen-adm and his beliefs, statues that perversely distorted Akhen-adm's features, making him look more like a monster than a human being. Wall carvings and paintings were also created to suggest that Akhen-adm worshiped the Sun as a deity. And Akhen-adm soon found, as well, that the only people who appeared to be at all loyal to him in all of Egypt were the people of Koshem, who had, not long after Akhen-adm's disappearance, begun to be oppressed by Horemheb and his heirs.
Akhen-adm realized that, to recover his throne, he needed to raise an army. He decided therefore to try to convince the aging Seti and Seti's son Ramses to allow him to lead the people of Koshem out into the wilderness for a brief time in order to worship Akhen-adm's "god". Akhen-adm believed that, while the people of Koshem were out in the wilderness, he could, aided by Aaron, convince them to turn against Ramses and his father.
Ramses and Seti, however, suspected that Akhen-adm had other motives. Consequently, when Akhen-adm asked them to allow him to lead the Koshemites out to the wilderness, they flatly refused.
While it took some time and effort, Seti and Ramses eventually allowed Akhen-adm, who we now known as Moses (AKA Mshe), to lead the people of Koshem into the wilderness. This was obviously accomplished, as described in the Bible, by Moses accurately predicting ten plagues that Egypt would face as a consequence of the Pharaoh's denial of Moses' request.
Unfortunately, after having given in to Moses' demand, Ramses soon had a change of heart, and Moses and his followers were ultimately chased out of Egypt. The death of Aaron also left Moses without the leadership and expertise he needed in order to mold the largely uneducated farmers and laborers of Koshem into the army that he would surely need if he were to ever be able to reclaim the Egyptian throne. God, as it would seem, had spoken.
The only thing Moses could do at that point was to lead the people who were following him on to a new land where they could establish for themselves a new home. He also recognized that he was himself close to death and that he would have to quickly pass on the vast amount of knowledge he possessed to someone else before he died. Without that knowledge, he knew that the people who looked upon him as their new pharaoh would never be able to survive and carry on his memory.
I do not believe that Moses wrote the Pentateuch (the five teachings). But I do firmly believe that the Pentateuch does in fact represent all of the teachings that Moses could pass along before he died. Thus it is easy to see how Moses might have been seen as its author. It is also easy to understand how some of the lessons he gave might have been misunderstood by those who originally received them.
It is also easy to understand why the descendants of the people he led out into the wilderness so many years ago still anxiously await his return in the form of the Mshe-a. For the Israelites he led out of Egypt, he was the enlightened one. He was their saviour. And he left them, alone, in the wilderness, just within reach of the promised land.