Friday, January 14, 2011

On Nimrod and Christmas Trees - part II

In the previous post in this series we went over Cybele and Attis specifically to find evidence of Christmas trees. We found a pine tree, but the details surrounding it bore no resemblance to the Christmas tree whatsoever. Rather, we see the syncretism held by Alexander Hislop and Herbert Armstrong, regarding Nimrod and Christmas trees, was grossly erroneous.
This time I would like to turn our attention to the Egyptian gods. Mainly Horus, Isis, and Osiris.

MANY VERSIONS OF THE SAME GOD

Let’s get something straight here before we begin.

Just like with Cybele and Attis, there are many versions of these Egyptian myths. 
These base myths are exceedingly old. The oldest religious documents in the world are the Pyramid Texts, dated to around 2300 BC, and there we see the names and details of the great Egyptian gods obviously already well-developed.

The mythical stories have been through much iteration. Versions of a myth from one area differed from versions in another. They were lost in war, they were merged together into new versions, they were changed in denominational feuding, they were rewritten for political expediency, they changed in response to Hellenization, and again in response to the popularity of Christ.

Take Horus for example. 
Horus is one of the most ancient of Egyptian gods. Horus begins as the sky with the sun as his right eye and the moon as his left eye. Horus is a falcon. There is a different Horus for just about every locality where Horus was worshipped. Multiple Horuses were mentioned just in the Pyramid Texts. Then there is Horus the Elder and Horus the Younger. Horus is king of Lower Egypt, then the king over all Egypt, then a representation of all Pharaohs. Horus is an amalgam of many gods. At one time he is Re’s son, at another time he is merged with Re, at another time Osiris’ son, at another time Osiris’ brother, at another time an incarnation of Osiris, at another time created as a thought by Ptah - and so forth and so on.

How can Hislop or Armstrong possibly say, “such and such was always true since the time of Nimrod”? They cannot. What’s more, if the pyramid texts don’t predate Nimrod, then the myths they tell absolutely do. So the basis of the entire story, that Semiramis made it all up, is simply not possible.
But I digress. 
See Sir Ernest Budge’s book “The Gods of the Egyptians”, especially chapter XV “The Horus Gods”, for more. I also found “Theology of Memphis” by Wim van den Dungen somewhat interesting. 

INTRO

On page 98 of Alexander Hislop’s book we have a vague reference to the Egyptian gods Osiris and Horus.
…it must be remembered that the divine child born at the winter solstice was born as a new incarnation of the great god (after that god had been cut in pieces), on purpose to revenge his death upon his murders. Now the great god, cut off in the midst of his power and glory, was symbolized as a huge tree, stripped of all its branches, and cut down almost to the ground.
-Alexander Hislop, “The Two Babylons”, 1858, p.98
The great god who was cut in pieces can only be Osiris, and the divine child born as a new incarnation can only mean one of the more recent versions of Horus. We can confidently say this because these features are known to be in the stories of these two gods. 
It's the other details that are wrong.

Hislop makes two claims that interest us. There is a winter solstice birth, and a tree.
Let’s start with the tree.  

THE CHRISTMAS TREE? NO!

Any good text about ancient Egypt will mention Plutarch and his book “Moralia”. I will summarize since we’re only interested in the tree anyway.

Isis was Osiris’ sister. They fell in love. Their evil brother Set was jealous, so he locked Osiris in a box and threw him in the Nile. The box washed up in Byblos (Phoenecia) and a large clump of heather (some translations say an Erica tree) grew around it. The king of the land cut the heather down and made it into a pillar in his palace. Isis found it, but so did Set. Set cut Osiris’ dead body into fourteen pieces and hid them. Isis found all but one piece. Since the pieces were not all found, Osiris had to remain in the land of the dead, thus he became the god of the underworld. A tree was then used as a symbol of this event.

Certain of these details are ancient, but certain details are not. 
For example the Pyramid Texts mention Osiris being drowned by Set and floated down the Nile. Osiris was the Nile god anciently, and he represented the Nile, its flooding, the life in the soil, and the vegetation that grew from it. Isis also represents the land that is nourished by the Nile and the vegetation that grows from it. It makes odd sense that Osiris would drown and float out to sea and be cut into pieces (like the Delta), only to return later, and Isis would be his wife, searching for him, and being impregnated by him.

On the other hand, James Henry Breasted, in his book “Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt” pages 25-28, says there is no record in Egypt of Set putting Osiris in a box. 

What's more, I find no mention of the clump of Heather or an Erica tree anywhere else that I’ve looked (outside of Plutarch.) Ancient texts have Osiris floating dead across the sea to the Land of the Cedar (Phoenicia), but his body is found, embalmed, taken back to Egypt for burial, and a Sycamore tree grows up.

Hislop says the tree is a palm. Armstrong says the tree is an evergreen. Most of Plutarch’s translators I have read say the tree was heather. Heather can be a great number of shrubs or trees, none of which are evergreen. I found a few that translate it as an Erica tree. Erica is an evergreen, but it is a flowering tree and not a pine at all. Others claim it was a Tamarisk tree. Again, an evergreen, but it is a flowering tree and not a pine. WikiPedia has Cypress tree. Yet again, an evergreen, but yet again not a pine.

Hard to find sources outside of Plutarch? Not a pine - probably not even an evergreen? Made into a pillar? Symbol of a god’s death? Not exactly what one would expect as “the real origin of the Christmas tree.”

What then of the solstice birth?

SOLSTICE BIRTH? NO!

The ancient Egyptian calendars are an incredibly complex topic due to the exceeding age of Egypt. There were numerous changes over time. There are debates to this day among historians as to major details of the Egyptian calendar. Still, I will do my best to explain.

From what I can gather, Egypt had a 365 day year, which they divided into three four-month seasons (not four seasons like the Temperate Zones are used to), with twelve thirty-day months. Their three seasons were tied to the flooding of the Nile and the crop cycle. It was an inaccurate calendar that was apparently reset each year at their New Year. But they had an odd twist that we should know about which I will summarize.

You might have caught the part just now where twelve months with thirty days each does not add up to 365.
According to Plutarch, Egypt anciently had a 360 day year. Re, the chief god, forbade Nut from having children on any day of the year. Nut went to Thoth and asked for help. Thoth gambled with the moon and won her light. Thoth then used that light to create 5 additional days (the ‘heriu renpet’.) The calendar was now 365 days long, and Nut was free to have children on those additional days.
The birthday of Osiris was on the first of those days, Horus on the second day, Set on the third, Isis on the fourth, and Nepthys on the fifth.
Got that? There are five special days each year where the above-mentioned gods were born.

Please allow me to remind you that Hislop tells us, “it must be remembered that the divine child [Horus] born at the winter solstice,” (The Two Babylons p.98) and HWA tells us, In Egypt, it was always believed that the son of Isis [Horus] … was born December 25th” (Plain Truth About Christmas p. 13.)
I remind you of that because there are some serious problems you need to be aware of.

Those claims are bold! Considering the astronomical solstice changes over time, and December 25th rarely if ever fell on it. For example, it hasn’t fallen on the solstice in 2,000 years. 
For another example, the news is abuzz that the motion of the earth over time has moved the zodiac one full sign away from where they were when the zodiac was invented in ancient Babylon. Mind the details! 
Also, December is a Roman month, not an Egyptian one. The ancient Egyptians wouldn’t know what a December is! 
Not to mention that we need to know if Armstrong is referring to December 25th as it was under the Julian calendar or the Gregorian calendar. 
Also, the Egyptian calendar follows the Nile flooding so it can’t be exactly matched to our own that we can say, “such and such festival was always on December 25th.” The very notion is laughable. Consider the debate among the historians who can’t even agree on when the Egyptian New Years was! If this is so debatable, there is no possibility that we can say, “such and such festival was always on December 25th.”

But am I being too technical?

Fine, then. Do a Google search for “Horus born on solstice”. What do you find? Page after page of websites from people who have watched Zeitgeist, perhaps even know who Gerald Massey or Alvin Kuhn are, and zealously believe that Jesus is Horus. These are the sites that will tell you Horus was born on December 25th. I prefer Roger Pearse's response to that.

Now am I being too simplistic?
We need to know when these five days are!

In reality these 5 additional days fell between the end of the old year and the New Year. A modern mind might conclude "winter." But not so fast!

When were these days? 
As I mentioned, there’s a little confusion about this because the Egyptian calendar doesn’t equate to our calendar nicely, so whatever I say here about the months is but a very rough estimate, but as best I can determine from checking a great deal of sources this was late June or July.

What does this mean? 
It means that Osiris and Horus were not considered born in December but on the opposite side of the year. Thus ends any possibility that Hislop or Armstrong were correct. Ouch! 

WHAT OF OSIRIS' DEATH?

This makes me curious as to Osiris’ death.

According to Plutarch, Osiris died in the month of Athyr. Athyr is the third month and falls most likely in October.
Lists of Egyptian festivals mention Sokar, which is a somber, six-day festival remembering Osiris’ death. Sokar was the last six days of the month of Koiak. Koiak is the fourth month and falls most likely in late October or November. 
Got that? Athyr is the third month, falls in October; Koiak is the fourth month, falls in October-November.

What does that mean?
That means that neither Osiris’ birth nor death were in December at all!

Why does that matter?
Remember the very first quote at the top of this post, Hislop mentions Horus' birth and Osiris' death. It's the death of Osiris where the tree comes into play. Osiris' death and the tree are inseparably linked. Much like when we learned the Attis tree was a spring funeral tree, the Osiris tree is a fall tree. Neither are in Winter. Both are related to death.
I wanted to make sure all the loose ends were tied up. The death of Osiris is no help to Hislop's dead theory.


Here are some links for source info:
The Egyptian Calendar System at Minnesota State.
Ancient Egyptian Calendars at AncientEgyptOnline.
Ancient Egyptian Festival Calendar at AncientEgyptOnline.

CONCLUSION

What have we learned today? 

We’ve learned that Osiris and Horus’ birthdays were in summer, Osiris died in the fall, the Egyptian calendar was a mess, their myths were constantly changing, their calendar doesn't tie into our calendar nicely at all, nothing was “always on December 25th,” few things were “always true since the time of Nimrod,” and some of these things Nimrod or Semiramis supposedly invented actually predated them. 

I highly recommend you read “The Babylon Connection” by Ralph Woodrow for more on this whole Nimrod/Semiramis thing.

But what I think is most important - we looked for a Christmas tree and found a clump of heather holding up a palace, or perhaps a sycamore. I can’t determine for certain what kind of tree it was, but, then again, Hislop and Armstrong couldn’t agree about it either. (More about that next time!) The tree is a death-related autumn tree not a birth-related winter tree.

In short, we have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Hislop and Armstrong are in error. I’d say overall this has been a very productive study!

In the next and hopefully last post in this series, I would like to do one last bit of textual criticism on Hislop and Armstrong’s writings.


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It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; ) Acts 17:11
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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think horus the younger was osiris' ans isis' child. The sowing took place in december.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that hislop could have had harpocrates in mind when he mentioned the "divine child?" There is horus the elder (osiris' brother) and harpocrates (osiris' lame son) so hislop could have had such a thing in mind. Just a thought.

Daniel.

xHWA said...

Very difficult to say.
But my guess is no.

Harpocrates was a Hellenistic Greek creation. They took Horus and made him into a Greek thing.

Hislop never mentions Harpocrates directly, that I can recall.

Hislop was focusing on (inaccurate versions of) Horus and Osirus. I do believe he was actually speaking of Horus.

But, then again, what Hislop did was he took almost everything and said it was Nimrod or Semiramis, so there's a possibility.