The Book Of Genesis And Monotheism

Genesis means the beginning, and this quote explains and validates, for many, what the beginning of humanity and sin was. The Bible has long been used as a life guide for many Christians, explaining their existence, and limiting their actions, for the promise of a Heavenly land was to come to them, if they so choose to live the “righteous” way. Within the textbook, an online article, and class discussions, the Book of Genesis and its origins are better understood and explained. Examining where this sacred text came from, who put it all together, and why it has had such a large impact on societies throughout all of the human time, can be better understood by tracing back to the peoples who put their full faith in nothing less than what they were told by the ones who came before them.

First, to understand the Christian religion, one must understand the people who created it. A group of people, called the Habiru, were wanderers who came from Israel and worked for the Egyptians, in return for a place they could stay and possibly settle. Upon their arrival, they were outcasts and had nothing except their bodies, and their faith. A man named Abram was enlightened by a voice in his head, later he called this voice Abram’s God”, that told him to pack up himself, and his family, and to follow this God’s further directions, for if he did, there would be a promised and holy land waiting for him and his followers. Thus, the beginning of two nations, and three religions (Backman 69). Abram and his family trekked northward, traveling and spending time in the Mesopotamian plain, Syria, Canaan and eventually the Palestine area, where they settled. A decade passes, God comes to Abram again, repeating his promise and ordering him to change his name to Abraham, which he does with no hesitation. Then, during the reign of the King Soloman, the king decides that he and his advisors need to assemble a sacred and holy text of their own, so that it can be taught to generations to come. Thus, in 950 BC, the first composition of the biblical texts were organized. The texts that were composed are a compilation of the historical teachings of the Habiru wanderers. Whether or not there is an absolute truth to be told about these teachings, they are a collection of stories that are centered around the first introduction to ethical monotheism. This was the beginning of an era of only one God: The God of Abraham. The agreement between God and his faithful follower, Abraham, was called The Covenant. This ensured, that if Abraham followed and spread God’s word, while collecting more followers to do the same, they would all eventually be lead to a holy and promised land: Canaan. Throughout history, Israel and Judah have constantly been at war with each other over religion and power. While Israel was conquered by the Assyrians, separated and spread all throughout the Middle East, Judah was taken over by the Babylonians, and did not get any of their land back until 1949. The followers of the Habiru began to lose faith in their one God, for why would he have their land and freedom stripped from them, and bring upon them famine and war?

Looking closely at the text of Genesis, it is apparent that the way the biblical story was written is not truth with a capital “t”, per say. For example, when Moses saves the Habiru from bondage, and magically parts the Red Sea, the readers understand that this could not have possibly happened in real life, rather it was an exaggeration of Moses’ abilities. Unlike nowadays, the Bible was written at a time when human beings were not seen as equals. The man was created first, and the woman created from the man’s ribs (Genesis 2:23). When they were created, they knew no shame or sin, for they lived in Eden where nothing harmful came to them, unless they were to eat the forbidden fruit. When Eve is tricked into eating the fruit, and gave her husband some, they begin to feel the wrath of shame, for they now notice that they are naked. Thus, the beginning of self-consciousness. People now are almost trained to be self conscious, and not allow the human body in its natural form to be celebrated, instead, society shames and turns away from any sort of nudity or sexuality. Also, within the document of Genesis, when God confronts the man about his knowledge of being naked, the man’s immediate response is to deflect the blame away from himself. “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree” (Genesis 3:12) , says Adam, blaming the woman for giving him the fruit, and placing some blame on God for giving the woman to him. While history seems to be farfetched, and society today sees themselves as being years apart and different than the peoples who came before them, they are not. When the bible was written and constructed, the people were new to understanding and practicing only having one God, but the idea of there being a heaven or hell was an idea that came from a more earlier group of people, the Egyptians, and although they were not accustomed to following and believing in only one god, they were well in favor of there being a judgement at the end of one’s life.

Although Christians tend to believe that their religion is superior and the most everlasting and righteous one, many of the guidelines and teachings within the Bible hold similarities to the Egyptian religion that came years before any collection of stories from the Habiru and Israelites existed. The Egyptians were polytheistic believers, yet they also strongly believed in the human soul, a ka, and its ability to have everlasting prosperity, or doom. Like Heaven and Hell, the Egyptians believed that at the end of one’s life, someone’s ka would be sent to the king of all Egyptian Gods, much like Christians being judged by their one God at the end of their life, and from there it would be decided that the soul would go to The Land of the Reeds, like Heaven, or the Land of Demons, much like hell. Like the Christian religion promotes not sinning and living a righteous life to get in to Heaven, the Egyptians had Ma’at, which was eternal prosperity, which could be achieved by choosing to live a harmonious life. Overall, the Egyptian practice was a very stringent one, for it was nearly impossible for someone to have obeyed all the confessions. So, rather than attempt to live up to the confessions, the Egyptians lived in harmony for the hope of a peaceful afterlife. The Negative Confessions held a long term influence over the Western Civilization and was used until the coming of Christianity. There is much to be said about the rituals and ethics that were believed in Ancient Egypt. To this day there are pieces of the Negative Confessions that apply to the study of history and will continue to live on. In contrast to The Negative Confessions, were the Ten Commandments. Unlike having the belief of many Gods, polytheism, Christianity had a belief in one God, Yahweh, which is known as monotheism. The Ten Commandments originated from the Torah, and contained Ten of the 613 Commandments, which was written by Moses on Mount Sinai. The recorded transition into Christianity occurred during c. 1069 BCE- c. 392 CE. Historians believed that the Ten Commandments originated from the Ancient Egyptian religion. Although there were differences with The Negative Confession and The Ten Commandments, there were also many similarities when comparing the Confessions with the Commandments. For instance, the Negative Confession stated what someone should not do, and that relates to The Ten Commandments as well. Although in The Ten Commandments, it also states what someone should do. One of the biggest transitions to Christianity was the belief of having one God, and worshipping only Him.

For all of the information to make sense, understanding where the religions come from, and how they relate to each other, is critical. Also, understanding that religions often times sprout and build off of each other, rather than just magically appear, and no single religion is greater than another, is important. From the Habiru, to the Israelis, to the Christians, and the Egyptians, years of history connects all of the peoples around the world to each other.  

16 December 2021
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