In the Beginning…?

Part One

 

By

Dr. Keita L. Kenyatta

 

#<ra||h tEa>w ~iy:m+V:h tEa ~yIhOl?a a\r\B tyIvaEr>B

 

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   The Hebrew passage above is Genesis 1:1, rendered in the King James Version of the Scriptures as, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…”  The key word in the Hebrew is the opening word Bereshit, translated in the beginning.  It is from the root word Rosh, meaning head, chief, or beginning.  In the Hebrew language the indefinite article a or an is not expressed and, therefore, it is implied in the translation to English.  The Hebrew word for the definite article is |h, which is pronounced ha, and is usually affixed to the noun it pertains to, thus the head or beginning would be Var\h, ha’rosh.  Another feature of the Hebrew language are the inseparable prepositions, which are prepositional prefixes.  For example, l (lamed) as a prefix to a root noun would mean to or for.  A m (min) would mean from, and k (kaf) would mean like or as.  The one we are concerned with for this study is the B (bet, beit, or beth), which would mean in, with, or by.

          J. Weingreen, in his A Practical Grammar for Classical Hebrew states,

When the inseparable preposition is followed by the article, e.g. ‘to the king’ (which we should expect to be ^lM_h]l), the h of the article (is scarcely audible and, in fact,) falls away, surrendering its vowel to the preposition, thus:  ^lM_l.  In the same way, ‘to the man’ (~?d?a?hEl) becomes ~?d?a??l, ‘to the darkness’ (^vx_h:l) becomes ^vx_l, and ‘to the dust’ (r?p?f;l) becomes r?p?f?l[1]]

 

With this grammatical rule in mind, one would have to conclude that the form of rosh which would indicate a definite particular beginning would be, bahroshit. Bereshit, on the other hand, would indicate a beginning, i.e. one of a few or many.

To contradict this point of view, Alexander Heidel, in examining the parallels between the Old Testament and Babylonian creation accounts, known as the Enumah Elish, in his book The Babylonian Genesis, states;

But terms like rêshîth, “beginning,” rôsh, “beginning,” qedem, “olden times,” and ‘ôlām, “eternity,” when used in adverbial expressions, occur almost invariably without the article, and that in the absolute state.  In the Greek transliterations of the Hebrew text which have come down to us, bĕrêshîth in the opening verse of Genesis appears as barhshjq, barhsejq, brhsijq, brishjq, and brhsijd; Jerome transliterated it bĕrêshîth (tyivaEr>B), which we should normally expect on the basis of the usage of this and similar Hebrew words, one could also say bârêshîth (tyIvaEr"B), without any difference in meaning.  The transliterations barhsήq and barhsέq support the old and generally accepted translation and interpretation of verse 1, while the absence of the definite article in bĕrêshîth cannot be used as a point against.[2]

That being said, without a clear, unveiled explanation from the experts, one wonders about the root and origins of variances on established rules and standards,

“Do not mingle with those who change…”  Proverbs 24:21b

 

“Differing weights are an abomination to Yhwh and a false scale (or standard) is not good.”  Proverbs 20:23

But, has he not said:

                "I the Lord do not change" (Malachi 3:6a).

Godfrey Higgins, in his monumental work Anacalypsis, raises an additional question regarding bereshit.

23.  The first word of Genesis may furnish an example of what I mean.  We have great authorities to justify the rendering of the word either by wisdom or beginning, or both.  And it must be for the reader to decide whether it has one or the other, or both – the double meaning.

 

When a translator finds a word with several meanings, than which nothing is more common, it is his duty to compare it with the context and to consider all the circumstances under which it is placed, and his prudence and judgment are displayed, or his want of them, in the selection which may not be advanced with equal force against translations.[3]

Unfortunately, some translators translate according to their historical, religious and racial proclivities.

Proverbs 6 : 15-19 says:

These six things doth the LORD hate:
yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
A proud look, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations,
feet that be swift in running to mischief,
A false witness that speaketh lies,
and he that soweth discord among brethren.

With the knowledge of what was, at one time, a common understanding of the double meaning of rosh or rash we can broaden our analysis in consideration of the fact that the truth may not just lie within the tight parameters that we have been conditioned to limit our research.  Higgins further states,

Perhaps in the languages of the world not two words have been of greater importance than the first two in the book of Genesis, tyivaEr>B), B-RASIT; (for they are properly two not one word) and great difference of opinion has arisen, among learned men, respecting the meaning of them.  Grotius renders them, when first; Simeon, before; Tertullian, in power; Rabbi Bechai and Castalio, in order before all; Onkelos, the Septuagint, Jonathan ben Uzziel, and the modern translators, in the beginning.

 

But the official or accredited and admitted authority of the Jewish religion, the Jerusalem Targum, renders them BY WISDOM. [4]

He even quotes Beausobre as saying,

The Jews, instead of translating Berasit by the words in the beginning, translate it by the Principle (par le Principe) active and immediate of all things, God made, &c., that is to say, according to the Targum of Jerusalem, BY WISDOM, God made, &c.[5]

It could be read as follows:

“By Wisdom God created the heavens and the earth…” 

As if this was not enough, Beausobre lists Maimonides, Chalcidius, Methodius, Origen, and Clement of Alexandria as confirming this rendering.  "Wisdom" is usually designated as having a feminine character, i.e. Sophia in Greek, Chakmah with its feminine ending in Hebrew, etc. 

Chakmah or Chokmah:

"The god-Aspect of Chokmah has always been associated with the "Blueprint" of things.

"...called PTAH in the ancient Egyptian "Paut-Neteru" or Great Company of the Gods.."

'Hhokmah is a symbol of feminine, awoken, consciousness. "

"Wisdom is knowing the names of things in the hierarchy of structures.  They both arise from the creation and are the means of its construction as God's thoughts."

The Scriptures said of the un-separated Adam:

 "And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see[awoke, conciousness] what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof [knowing the names of things in the hierarchy of structures]. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field;" ... (KJV) Genesis 2:19-20.

Since, the original Biblical Adam was created after the image of the Infinite One, and was later divided into male and female, both the masculine and feminine principles must be housed within the Biblical Creator.  The further extension of this argument, based on the forgoing evidence, is that the Feminine aspect of God was employed or active in the Creation!

The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.  Proverbs 3:19 KJV

 

(Wisdom speaking) The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.  I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was…When he prepared the heavens I was there… Proverbs 8:22-23, 27a KJV

What we have examined thus far serves to indicate that the possibility exists that what we have been taught about the Creation is, at least, not a full view, i.e. that it does not present a complete perspective of what must have been a multi-faceted understanding of the event, by the Hebrew and those who lived around them. We must, therefore, consider, without fear, pre-Biblical writings and those contemporaneous to the Bible concerning the Beginning.  Wisdom and common sense dictate that if we find similarities, or outright repetition, that would seem to show a basis for Biblical interpretation, these would indicate or prove that Hebrew beliefs did not grow out of a vacuum.

We must initially establish that the very first conceptually organized religious system was formed in Kush (Ethiopia or Eastern Africa), pre-dating Egypt and Mesopotamia, as confirmed by Stephanus of Byzantium,

Ethiopia was the first established country on earth; and the Ethiopians were the first who introduced the worship of the gods, and who established laws.[6] [Africa was called by the name Ethiopia]

In every country that one visits and where one is drawn into a conversation about Africa, the question is regularly asked, by people who should know better: "But what has Africa contributed to world progress?" The critics of Africa forget that men of science today, with few exceptions, are satisfied that Africa was the birthplace of man himself, and that for many hundreds of centuries thereafter, Africa was in the forefront of all human progress. [7]

And, what was begun in Kush found its’ zenith in Kemet (Egypt).  We must erase from our consciousness the white supremacist notion, which is espoused by a majority of the Churches, Temples and Mosques that our people knew nothing about God, or were too primitive to understand Him and the missionaries and the slavers they made way for, came to bring light to black Africa and 'save' the African.

“…the living Elohim, who made the heaven, and the earth, and the sea, and all that is in them, who in past generations allowed all he nations to walk in their own ways, though, indeed, He did not leave Himself without witness...”  Acts 14:15-17.

 

Indeed, there have been many witnesses in various cultures, some unknown by marginalization, others by erasure.  Let’s examine some of them:

 

 Ethiopian  Creation Myth

Wak was the creator god who lived in the clouds. He kept the vault of the heavens at a distance from the earth and covered it with stars. He was a benefactor and did not punish. When the earth was flat Wak asked man to make his own coffin, and when man did this Wak shut him up in it and pushed it into the ground. For seven years he made fire rain down and the mountains were formed. Then Wak unearthed the coffin and man sprang forth, alive. Man tired of living alone, so Wak took some of his blood, and after four days, the blood became a woman whom the man married. They had 30 children, but the man was ashamed of having so many so he hid 15 of them. Wak then made those hidden children into animals and demons.


 
http://www.gateway-africa.com/stories/Ethiopian_creation_Myth[8]

 

“The human race must have been considered there a spontaneous, having been born in the upper areas of Ethiopia where two sources of life – heat and humidity –are ever present. It is also in this region that the glimmerings of history reveal the origin of societies and the primitive home of civilizations…the Ethiopians boasted of having been the first to establish worship of the divinity and the us of sacrifices.  There, too, the torch of science and the arts was probably first lighted. To this people we must attribute the origin of sculpture, the se of written symbols, in short, the start of all e development that make up an advanced civilization.[9]

Another Egyptian Creation Myth:   

At first there was only Nun, the primal ocean of chaos that contained the beginnings of everything to come. From these waters came Ra who, by himself, gave birth to Shu and Tefnut. Shu, the god of air, and Tefnut, the goddess of moisture gave birth to Geb and Nut, the earth god and the sky goddess. And so the physical universe was created. Men were created from Ra's tears. They proved to be ungrateful so Ra, and a council of gods, decided they should be destroyed. Hathor was dispatched to do the job. She was very efficient and slaughtered all but a remnant, when Ra relented and called her off. Thus was the present world created. 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, Set, Isis, and Nephthys successively. Osiris became the symbol of good, while Set became the symbol of evil. And thus the two poles of morality were fixed once and for all.    http://www.gateway-africa.com/stories/Egyptian_Creation_Myth.html  [10]

 

The eminent historian, John G. Jackson cites the discovery of a clay tablet written in the Sumerian language, dating from between 2100 and 2500 B.C., believed to be a copy of an original from around 4000 B.C.  This is the Enumah Elish [When Above or When on High] referred to earlier, which include not only the Creation story and the fall of Man, but narratives of the Deluge and the Tower of Babel as well.[11]

 

 Cuneiform

The key to analyzing and comparing these examples to the Genesis account is not getting caught up in the unfamiliar sounding names or imagery, but focusing on the concepts and principles being conveyed.  Only then can we detect any similarities.  If we are constrained by pre-set biases, these similarities will entirely escape our analysis.  Depending on ones’ beliefs or perspective, these stories, as well as the Genesis account, can be viewed as mere myths.  But, what are myths?  And, are they completely devoid of factual reality or basis?  In the introduction of the book, Hebrew Myths: The Book of Genesis, it states,

Myths are dramatic stories that form a sacred charter either authorizing the continuance of ancient institutions, customs, rites and beliefs in the area where they are current, or approving alterations.  The word ‘myth’ is Greek, mythology is a Greek concept, and the study of mythology is based on Greek examples.  Literalists who deny that the Bible contains any myths at all are, in a sense, justified.  Most other myths deal with gods and goddesses who take sides in human affairs, each favouring rival heroes; whereas the Bible acknowledges only a single universal God.[12]

From this definition the Egyptian example would appear to qualify as a classic myth.  But, upon careful examination we should realize that the characters participating in the Creation that are normally termed “gods,” are in fact neteru, a term historically mis-defined.  Moustafa Gadalla explains the concept this way,

“The neteru (gods) were the personification of the energies/powers/forces that, through their actions and interactions, the universe was created, maintained, and continues to be maintained.

 

In order to simplify and convey the scientific and philosophical abstracts of the neteru (gods), some fixed representations were invented. As a result, the figures of Ptah, Ausar (Osiris), Amen, Heru (Horus), Mut, etc., became the signs of such attributes/functions/forces/energies.

 

The figures of the neteru were intended merely to fix the attention or to represent abstract idea(s), and were not intended to be looked upon as real personages.[13]

 

Contrary to popular understanding, the Egyptians initially believed in the One universal God, whose attributes were represented by various personifications (neteru), i.e. human figures with the heads of a falcon (Horus or Heru), a bull (Anubis), or a ibis (Thoth or Tehuti), etc.  The programmed response by many Christians would be to view this as alien pagan idolatry without considering that the first chapter of Ezekiel incorporates this very same concept in expressing the four-fold nature of Yahweh as Messiah. To fully appreciate this instrument of communication and dramatization will require an in-depth study of symbol and iconography, which will be posted in the near future.

Despite what we have been taught, ancient Hebraic thought and worship was heavily influenced and shaped by this incubator which bore and sustained them.  It was only subsequent efforts by the priests, rabbis, and scribes that sought to obscure this fact.

The original religious impulse in Judaism, which found its valid expression in the ethical monotheism of the Prophets of Israel and its conceptual formulation in the Jewish philosophy of religion of the Middle Ages, has always been characterized as a reaction to mythology.  In opposition to the pantheistic unity of God, cosmos, and man in myth, in opposition to the nature myths of the Near-Eastern religions, Judaism aimed at a radical separation of the three realms; and, above all, he gulf between the Creator and His creature was regarded as fundamentally unbridgeable.  Jewish worship implied a renunciation, indeed a polemical rejection, of the images and symbols in which the mythical world finds its expression.  Judaism strove to open up a region, that of monotheistic revelation, from which mythology would be excluded.  Those vestiges of myth that were preserved here and there were shorn of their original symbolic power and taken in a purely metaphorical sense.  Here there is no need to expatiate on a matter that has been amply discussed by students of Biblical literature, theologians, and anthropologists.  In any case, the tendency of the classical Jewish tradition to liquidate myth as a central spiritual power is not diminished by such quasi-mythical vestiges transformed into metaphors.

 

This tendency was very much accentuated by the rationalistic thinking of medieval Rabbinical Judaism; its unbroken development from Saadya to Maimonides gave rise to a problem closely related to the subject that will concern us here.  The philosophers and theologians were concerned first and foremost with the purity of the concept of God and determined to divest it of all mythical and anthropomorphic elements.  But this determination to defend the transcendent God against all admixture with myth, to reinterpret the recklessly anthropomorphic statements of the Biblical text and the popular forms of religious forms of religious expression in terms of a purified theology, tended to empty the concept of God. For once the fear of sullying God’s sublimity with earthly images becomes a paramount concern, less and less reality.  For the living God can never be subsumed under a pure concept.  What makes Him a living God in the mind of a believer is precisely what involves Him in some part of the human world, what makes it possible for man to see Him face to face in a great religious symbol.  Reformulated in rational terms all this vanishes.  To preserve the purity of the concept of God without loss of His living reality – that is the never-ending task of theology.[14]

 

Here, Gershom Scholem appears to acknowledge and confirm that connecting vestiges of Egyptian origin and influence did, in fact, exist in the Scriptural text, and that there was a deliberate effort to purge these evidences.  An example to consider would be the incident involving Zipporah circumcising Moses’ son (Exodus 4:22-26).  As you analyze the flow of the narrative, the obvious question is, “What is missing?” It is readily apparent that some portion of the text has been excised.

 

Egyptian circumcision rite-predating Abraham

 

Maasai and Meru Circumcision

 

 

How old is Creation?

One of the central figures responsible for the Biblical orthodox view of the age of Creation was theologian James Ussher (1581-1656), Anglican Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland between 1625 and 1656  who, along with John Lightfoot and others in developing a Biblical chronology, dated Creation at precisely nightfall preceding the 23rd of October, 2004 B.C.  His analysis is based on Biblical chronology and genealogy linked to certain historical events.

“But, beloved ones, let not this on matter be hidden from you: that with YHWH one day is as a thousand years, a thousand years as one day.”   2 Peter 3: 8.

An outgrowth of these various calculations is the theory that Creation is approximately 6000 years old, with each previous millennium coinciding with the first six days of Creation as described in Genesis. Consequently, from an eschatological standpoint, we find ourselves at the culmination of the sixth day (Armageddon), and at the threshold of the seventh day (The Millennium), which, judging by world events and the decay of societal mores, seems like a very plausible notion.  The net effect of this construct is that it injects European history into the center of human history, rather than European history being a very recent addendum.

The problem arises when this model is juxtaposed with evidences of a much, much older earth, such as:

 

·        The antiquity of the dinosaurs.  Not to endorse Darwinism, but their chronological record appears to grossly exceed the six-thousand year model.

·        10,000 – 6,000 B.C.E. (B.C.) Stellar Calendar in use by the ancient Nile Valley Africans and other Africans of the Great Lakes regions. [see Yosef ben-Jochannan A Chronology of the Bible. Baltimore: Black Classic Press, 1973]

·        The geological evidence of the Sphinx in Egypt, shows that it was at one time submerged under water and this pre-dates the 6,000 year model given by Rev. Ussher.

·        The Kemetic-Egyptian astronomer-priests charting of “The Great Year” in Zodiacal calendar. 

 

How many eons must have elapsed in order to observe the pattern of this astronomical

procession?

The heavenly Zodiac was pictured as a great circular “clock” divided into twelve equal arcs or signs.  The Zodiac could only be charted in the sky after the Great Year had been determined.  To explain the Great Year, one has to appreciate that the axis of the earth is tilted about 23 degrees from vertical or true north.  Given this tilt, there is a “wobble” effect of the earth’s north axis in relation to true north.  As the earth revolves around the sun, the earth’s north axis slowly revolves around true north, taking 25,868 years (26,000 in round numbers) to the effect a complete revolution.  This is the Great Year.  As this slow, 26,000 year revolution occurs, the equinoxes appear to move slowly backward in relation to their position in the signs of the Zodiac. The 2,155-year presence of the spring equinox in each Zodiacal sign constitutes an “age.”  This 2,155-year figure is arrived at by dividing the length of the Great Year, 25,868 by twelve, the number of signs in the Zodiac.[15]

 

·        4000 B.C. – Solar Calendar in use by the ancient Nile Valley Africans.  The Book of the Coming Forth by Day and by Night was introduced in its revised (my emphasis) state, also known today as The Book of the Dead (as translated from hieroglyph to English by Sir Ernest A. Wallis Budge, London, England, 1885 C.E.).  The Kemetic/Egyptian priority and preeminence in the astronomical sciences and observation was facilitated by the ideal location of the Nile Valley. [Y.ben-Jochannan]

·        The Piri Reis World Map of 1513 portrays the Princess Martha Coast of Queen Maud Land Antarctica which matches the seismic profile of the same area made by the Swedish-British Antarctic Expedition of 1949.  This is significant because this area is covered by an ice cap approximately one mile thick.  The last known ice-free period in the region ended around 4000 BC!  The charts, which were made in Constantinople, were copied from charts that had been collected and studied in the Alexandrian Library, which in turn had been handed down from the furthest antiquity.[16]

 

ZEP TEPI

Orion

Zep Tepi, The First Time, in Egyptian cosmogony (an account of the beginning of the world), is the time the attributes of the One-God, called the neteru sprang forth in the remotest antiquity.  No attempt was made by the ancients to calculate exactly when time began or when it will end.  It may be that this is what our approach should be, rather than haggling over something we can never be absolute about.  Our textual analysis at the beginning of this article indicates the possibility of the Genesis account being A Beginning, making the debate about beginnings and endings moot.  It is just as futile as the ontological debates that go on in theological circles.  Ontology, the study of being, seeks to define the exact nature of the Infinite One. The ancient Hebrews did not devote much time on such debates, the only questions being “Does He make His presence known in our midst?” and “Does He answer our prayers?”   The insistence on fixing an exact date of Creation may be related to the idea that if you can name or define a thing, you control that thing, because a name, tells of the intrinsic value of the thing named.   This takes on even more critical importance for mankind if the same motivation is applied to renaming and redefining the land, history, culture, spirituality, knowledge, and resources of a particular people other than your own, which we see in modern European scholarship.  

In looking at the Egyptian original concepts of Zep-Tepi and juxtaposing it with the Hebrew account, we see that Zep-Tepi is understood as the ‘First Time’ of all creation, whereas the Hebrew 'Bereshit' signifies a single time in many creations or another recording of the story told by this specific people but recounted by many people. The Hebrews received their Creation story from earlier traditions that were not their own.  The Egyptian/African account on the other hand, had the original story told to the people of God and then disseminated to all others.

To paraphrase a statement from the film The Fire This Time,

 

“True Power is the ability to create your own reality, and then impose it on others, and have them embrace it as their own.”

 

 

The first man…

 

 

To be continued…..

[Table of  Contents]
 

This is copyrighted material.


[1] Weingreen, J. A Practical Grammer for Classical Hebrew. New York: Oxford University Press, 1959. 28

[2] Heidel, Alexander The Babylonian Genesis. Chicago & London:  The University of Chicago Press, 1951. 92-93

[3] Higgins, Godfrey Anacalypsis. (Reprint) www.kessinger.net: Kessinger Publishing, 1833. 73.

[4] Higgins, 73.

[5] Higgins, 74.

[6] Jackson, John G. Ethiopia and the Origin of Civilization. Baltimore: Black Classic Press, 1939. P. 8-9.

[7] The Progress and Evolution of Man in Africa, Dr. L.S.B. Leakey

[8] http://www.gateway-africa.com/stories/Ethiopian_creation_Myth.html

[9] Chérubini, La Nubie. Paris: Collection l’Univers, 1847 ,pp.2-3, as cited by Cheikh Anta Diop, The African Origins of Civilization: Myth or Reality. Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, 1974.

[10] http://www.gateway-africa.com/stories/Egyptian_creation_Myth.html

[11] http://www.africawithin.com/jgjackson/jgjackson_african_origin.htm

[12] Graves, R. and Patai, R. Hebrew Myths: the Book of Genesis. New York: Greenwich House, 1983.  P.11

[13] Gadalla, Moustafa Historcal Deception, The Untold Story of Ancient Egypt. Greensboro, NC: Tehuti Research Foundation, 1999.  P. 34-35

[14] Scholem, Gershom  On the Kabbalah and its Symbolism. New York: Schocken Books, 1969. P. 88-89

[15] Saakana, Amon Saba, Ed. African Origins of the Major World Religions. (The Kamitic Genesis of Christianity by Charles Finch)  London: Karnak House, 1988. P. 42-43

[16] Hancock, Graham Fingerprints of the Gods. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1995. P. 3-5.

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