Egyptian Influence on Ancient Hebrew Literature

If you read these, I must assume that you are a true glut­ton for punishment.

Did ancient Egypt­ian lit­er­a­ture have any influ­ence on ancient Hebrew literature?


Absolute­ly! Egypt­ian beliefs impact­ed Hebrew beliefs, and that impact is def­i­nite­ly shown in Hebrew lit­er­a­ture. For instance, the prac­tice of start­ing the day at sun­set comes to Hebrew cul­ture from the Egyp­tians. The Hebrews were not always monothe­ists, and many schol­ars believe that the idea of one deity was picked up by the Hebrews from Akhen­aten’s procla­ma­tions of Aten as the only deity. 

Psalm 104 and the Hymn to Aten are very sim­i­lar, and the Hebrew psalm may have been derived from the Egypt­ian hymn. I’ve placed the pas­sages that I see as most sim­i­lar next to each oth­er below.

20. Thou mak­est dark­ness, and it is night; where­in all the beasts of the for­est creep forth. II. When you sink to rest below west­ern horizon
earth lies in dark­ness like death,
Sleep­ers are still in bed­cham­bers, heads veiled,
eye can­not spay a companion;
All their goods could be stolen away,
heads heavy there, and they nev­er knowing!
Lions come out from the deeps of their caves, 
21. The young Lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God.  II. …snakes bite and sting.
Dark­ness muf­fles, and earth is silent:
he who cre­at­ed all things lies low in his tomb. 
22. The Sun ariseth, they gath­er them­selves togeth­er, and lay them down in their dens. III. Earth-dawn­ing mounts the horizon,
glows in the sun-disk as day:
You dri­ve away dark­ness, offer your arrows of shining,
and the Two Lands are live­ly with morningsong.
Sun’s chil­dren awak­en and stand,
for you, gold­en light, have upraised the sleepers;
Bathed are their bod­ies, who dress in clean linen,
their arms held high to praise your Return. 
23. Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.  III. …Across the face of the earth
they go to their crafts and professions. 
12. By them shall the fowls of the heav­en have their habi­ta­tion, which sing among the branches.
13. He watereth the hills from his cham­bers: the earth is sat­is­fied with the fruit of they works.
14. He causeth the grass to grow for the cat­tle, and herb for the ser­vice of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth. 
IV. The herds are at peace in their pastures,
trees and the veg­e­ta­tion grow green;
Birds start from their nests,
wings wide spread to wor­ship your Person;
Small beasts frisk and gam­bol, and all
who mount into flight or set­tle to rest
live, once you have shone upon them; 
25. So is this great and wide sea, where­in are things creep­ing innu­mer­able, both small and great beasts.
26. There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.
IV. …Ships float down­stream or sail for the south,
each path lies open because of your rising;
Fish in the Riv­er leap in your sight,
and your rays strike deep in the Great Green Sea. 
27. These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season.  VIII. And you place each one in his prop­er station,
where you min­is­ter to his needs;
Each has his por­tion of food,
and the years of life are reck­oned him. 

Cyn is a proud Mommy & Mémé, professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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