Akhenaten’s Monotheism & Legacy

Akhenaten was a pharaoh in ancient Egypt, whose reign was between 1353-1336 BCE on 18th Dynasty. He is also known as 'Akhenaton' which is translated to mean  'of great use to' the god Aten. Akhenaten chose this name for himself after his conversion to the cult of Aten. Before that period, he was used to be known as Amenhotep IV or Amenophis IV.. He was husband of Queen Nefertiti, and father of both Tutankhamun and Ankhsenamun. Tutankamun was the son who was given birth by his lesser wife Kiya and Ankhsenamun by Nefertiti. Later on on Ankhsenamun became Tut's wife.

During the first five years of his reign  he followed  religious traditions of Egypt. However, in the fifth year, he changed his devotion from the cult of Amun to that of Aten, and, for the next twelve years, became  the 'heretic king' who abandoned the religious cult of Egypt and instituted the first known monotheistic state religion in the world,  or, according to some, he created monotheism by himself.

His reign is known as the Amarna Period because he moved the capital of Egypt from the traditional site at Thebes to the city he founded, Akhetaten, which came to be known as Amarna . 


Tel El Amarna

Amenhotep III ruled over a land whose priesthood, centered on the god Amun, had been steadily growing in power for centuries. By the time Amenhotep IV came to power, the priests of Amun were on almost equal standing with the royal house in wealth and influence.
With the exception of Ra and Osiris, the worship of Amun was more widespread than that of any other god in the Nile Valley; but the reason behind such a fast growth of his cult point to its having been disseminated by political rather than religious propaganda.

By the time of Amenhotep IV, the cult of Amun owned more land than the king. In the 5th year of his reign, Amenhotep IV outlawed the old Egyptian religion and proclaimed himself the living incarnation of a single all-powerful deity known as Aten and, by the 9th year, he had closed all the temples and suppressed religious practices.
Religious persecution was new to the Egyptians, who had always worshipped many deities and were ever ready to add new gods to the pantheon. Atenism, however, was a very exclusive religion confined to the royal family, with the king as the only mediator between man and god. Amenhotep IV moved his seat of power from the traditional palace at Thebes to one he built at the city he founded, Akhetaten, changed his name to Akhenaten, and continued the religious reforms


Akenaton & Nefertiti with their chils being blessed by the Sun

Akhenaten’s reign was a campaign to excise the name of gods other than the Aten, especially Amun, from the monuments of Egypt. This was done with violence: hieroglyphs were brutally hacked from the walls of temples and tombs. Priests of Amun who had the time and resources hid statuary and texts from the palace guards sent to destroy them and then abandoned their temple complexes. Akhenaten ordained new priests, or simply forced priests of Amun into the service of his new monotheism, and proclaimed himself and his queen gods.

The pharaoh as a servant of the gods, and identified with a certain god (most often Horus), was common practice in ancient Egyptian culture, but no one before Akhenaten had proclaimed himself an actual god incarnate.

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 Whether Akhenaten was motivated by a political agenda to suppress the power of the cult of Amun or if he experienced a true religious revelation, he was the first on record to envision a single, supreme deity who cared for the individual lives and fates of human beings.

So, what is the first commonly known monoteistic religion, who is Moses, what is ''Old testament'' etc?

Moses is reflected as a prophet by the Abrahamic religions. Scholarly consensus sees Moses as a legendary figure who weren't really existed as a historical character. On the other hand,  many people consider that a Moses-like figure existed.
According to the Book of Exodus, Moses was born in a time when his people, were increasing in numbers and the Egyptian Pharaoh was worried that they might ally themselves with Egypt's enemies. Moses' Hebrew mother, secretly hid him when the Pharaoh ordered all newborn Hebrew boys to be killed in order to reduce the population of the Israelites. Through the Pharaoh's daughter the child was adopted after she found him floating on the river Nile in a basket  and he has grown up with the Egyptian royal family.

 After killing an Egyptian slavemaster Moses fled across the Red Sea to Midian, where he encountered The Angel of the Lord, speaking to him from within a burning bush on Mount Horeb.
God sent Moses back to Egypt to demand the release of the Israelites from slavery. Because Moses is not eloguent on speaking, God delegated  his brother Aaron as his spokesperson. After the Ten Plagues, Moses led the Exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt and across the Red Sea, after which they based themselves at Mount Sinai, where Moses received the Ten Commandments. After 40 years of wandering in the desert, Moses died within sight of the Promised Land on Mount Nebo.

Sigmund Freud, in his 1939 CE work Moses and Monotheism, argues that Moses was an Egyptian who had been an adherent of the cult of Aten and was driven from Egypt following Akhenaten’s death and the return to the old religious paradigm.

Freud hypothesizes that the name ''Moses'' was not Hebrew, but actually born into Ancient Egyptian nobility and was probably a follower of Akhenaten who was the creator of the first monotheistic religion. As Known the Word ''Moses'' can be translated as ''Brought by the water because of the mystical story about being found by Pharoh's daughter in a basket which was floating on the river Nile. The Freud retells the events, claiming that Moses led only his close followers into freedom during an unstable period in Egyptian history after Akhenaten's death. Than, they subsequently killed Moses in rebellion, and later joined with another monotheistic tribe in Midian who worshipped a  god called Yahweh. According to Karel van der Toorn, "By the 14th century BC, before the cult of Yahweh had reached Israel, groups of Edomites and Midianites worshipped Yahweh as their god. Freud supposed that the god of Moses was fused with Yahweh, and that the deeds of Moses were ascribed to a Midianite priest who were also called as Moses. 

when this cultural mixture is taken into consideration it can easily be understood that the ''being found in a basket on the river'' story of Moses could be derived from the King Sargon's same story about ''being found in a basket on a river'' who had lived quite close to the geographical area of Midianites.

Freud explains that centuries after the murder of the Egyptian Moses, the rebels regretted their action, thus forming the concept of the Messiah as a hope for the return of Moses as the Saviour of the Israelites. Freud said that the guilt from the murder of Moses is inherited through the generations; this guilt then drives the Jews to religion to make them feel better.

The Finding of Moses, painting by Sir La

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