Of Boats and Falcons




Edfu Temple:
I doubt you have ever heard of this temple before, yet it is one of the best-preserved of the ancient world’s temple. The temple is dedicated to the falcon-headed god Horus, who is the god of protection and healing. According to Egyptian mythology, Horus battled with Set, the evil brother of Osiris, (the name for “Satan” was derived from “Set”). During this epic grudge match, Set gouged out one of Horus’ eyes, and since then (for some reason), the “Eye of Horus” has been a symbol of protection and healing. Displaying the Eye was believed to safegaurd against evil spirits and the like. This temple is also home to one of the best-preserved statues of Horus in falcon form.

One of the most intriguing things about this temple is that archaeologists discovered the remains of an ancient Egyptian ark. There are also reliefs on the wall depicting the priests of Horus carrying the Ark in the same manner as the Levitical Priests were commanded: poles slid through rings on the sides of the ark, carried over the shoulders. This ark (and presumably all Egyptian gods had an ark) was designed like one of the Egyptian sun-boats, only scaled down. Its long, slender hull carried a shrine in the middle in which would be placed an idol of the god along with a set of the 14 Egyptian commandments (and possibly other “relics” of sorts). It would not be too far-fetched to assume that when God told Moses to build him an Ark of the Covenant for him and the 10 Commandments that Moses would have built something very similar to the Egyptian ark (and not some sort of box or treasure chest).

We also learned at Edfu that the Egytians believed the ground to be holy wherever their gods were. No one was alowed to wear sandals inside the temple, and the priests would transport the ark barefoot. The only exception to this was in times of war, when everyone needed to be prepared for fight or flight. This Egyptian practice manifests itself in the stories in Exodus as well. First, God told Moses to remove his sandals for he was standing on Holy Ground. Second, God commanded the Hebrews to partake of the Passover (a holy feast) with their sandals strapped so they would be ready to flee.

It was about this point in the trip that the entire story of Joseph through Moses started to really click. I began to realize just how much of a connection the Hebrews would have had to the culture and religion of Egypt. Regardless of this, God used what they knew in order to establish his covenant with them. He had no problem taking something from one culture and using it to his glory. This is one reason I know that God is awesome.