Comparison Between Egyptian and Hebrew Creation Myths
|Criteria||Egyptian Creation Myth - Heliopolis Version||Hebrew Creation myth|
|Day One||- Creation of light
- In the beginning there was only water, a chaos of churning, bubbling water, this the Egyptians called Nu or Nun. It was out of Nu that everything began.
- Then the sun god Ra emerged out of primeval chaos, he came out of a blue giant lotus flower that appeared on the surface of the water.
- Ra gave light to the universe
|- Creation of light
- In the beginning the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep water, these waters were very similar to the primordial watery chaos Nun of the Egyptian creation myth
- A wind from God swept over the face of the waters to give light (just the same as Ra )
- Unlike the Egyptian mythology, God existed before the creation, he was not born out as Ra
|Day Two||- Creation of air and moisture - Ra created the air god Shu and his wife Tefnut the goddess of moisture,||- Creation of the sky - God said, "Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters." So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome, And it was so. God called the dome Sky. (Rain provided ancient people evidence that a body of water existed above the sky)|
|Day Three||- Creation of Earth and Sky - Shu and Tefnut gave birth to the sky- goddess Nut and
the earth god Geb, and so the physical universe was created.
- Ra seems to rest while his sons and daughters are completing the task of creation, this is in accordance with the polytheistic beliefs of ancient Egyptians
|- Creation of Earth - God made the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place and called it "Seas", and let the dry land appear and called it "Earth". Then God put forward vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees.
- The Hebrew God here seems to be in charge of all the phases of creation unlike Ra, this comes in accordance with the monotheistic beliefs of Jews and Christians
|Day Four||- Creation of Calendar - Against Ra's orders, Geb and Nut married. Ra was incensed and ordered Shu to separate them, which he did. But Nut was already pregnant,
although unable to give birth as Ra had decreed she could not give birth in any month of any year.
- Thoth, the god of learning, decided to help her and gambling with the moon for extra light, was able to add five extra days to the 360-day calendar. On those five days Nut gave birth to Osiris, Horus the Elder, Seth, Isis, and Nephthys successively.
- Even the heavenly bodies are seen as serving human needs, by providing the basis for a calendar.
|- Creation of Calendar - God created day and night by making two great lights in the dome of the sky to give light, the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night-and the stars.
- This daily cycle allowed for the separation of seasons and years, thus the calendar was created
- Unlike the Egyptian mythology, the calendar was created by God on purpose, while in Egypt the calendar was created by Ra's sons by tricking him, showing a distribution of power between the cosmic gods
|Day Five, Six and Seven||- Creation of Life - Khnum created the living creatures on his potter's wheel.
- He modeled the animals, plants and people of the earth.
- A detailed description of how he created humans is found at Esna Temple. It describes how he orders the bloodstream to cover the bones, and makes the skin enclose the body. He then makes the respiratory system and the food digestion.
- In contrast with the Hebrew mythology, the work of Khnum was seen as a continuous task, he was seen as a deity sitting on his potter's wheel constantly working in creating life.
|- Creation of Life - God brought forward living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.
- On day six God created humankind in his image, blessed them said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply
- On day seven God rested from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done"
- The basic concept in the creation myths for both the Egyptian mythology and the Hebrews seems very similar
- Both creation myths concern themselves with nature; the earth, the sky, the sun, the moon and the stars
- Since the Nile river, with its annual floods played a critical role in this cosmic order, water was the first element in the cosmos that existed before anything else, and this was passed to the Hebrews in a slightly different form
- in fact we have to wonder how much the ancient Hebrews borrowed from Egyptian mythology to explain the creation of the universe
- The most important difference between both mythologies is that Egyptians believed in polytheism, and every cosmic deity had an independent role in the creation of the world, while in Hebrew mythology God was the only creator, and the Creation was basically a "One Man Show"
Video: Ancient Egyptian Religion & Myths
From the 'Egypt Uncovered' series: "Deities and Demons"....