Abraham and Athamas

Published February 12, 2018 by amaic
Image result for athamas and nephele

 

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

 

“I can’t think of another pair, of ancient stories which are so similar, and yet so seldom compared! Both Abraham and Athamas were divinely commanded to sacrifice, each their own son, with a knife on a mountain top, and each was about to comply when the child was saved, each by the miraculous appearance of a ram”.

John R. Salverda

 

 

 

Can we find traces of Abraham (Abram) and Sarah (Sarai) also in other ancient traditions?

Indeed, it appears that we can. The pair are commonly likened to, for instance, the Hindu pair Brahma and Sarasvati. Thus we read in:

Brahma and Abraham: Divine Covenants of Common Origin

http://www.academia.edu/4540206/Brahma_and_Abraham_Divine_Covenants_of_Common_Origin

Regarding the link between Abraham and Brahma, Steven Rosen writes:

 

The similarities between the names of Abraham and Brahma have not gone unnoticed. Abraham is said to be the father of the Jews, and Brahma, as the first created being, is often seen as the father of mankind.

Abraham’s name is derived from the two Semitic words ab meaning ‘father’ and

raam/raham meaning ‘of the exalted….’ We might also note that the name of Brahma‘s consort Sarasvati seems to resonate with that of Abraham‘s wife, Sarah [… each one‘s identity as a wife and/or sister]. Also, in India, the Sarasvati River includes a tributary known as the Ghaggar…. According to Jewish tradition, Hagar was Sarah’s maidservant…. Both Brahmins … and Jews see themselves as the ‘chosen people of God’. The Hebrews began their sojourn through history as a ‘kingdom of priests’ (Exodus 19:6). Likewise, Brahmins are also a community of priests. ….

 

Now, good friend John R. Salverda claims also to have found compelling likenesses between Abraham and the Minyan Athamas (of Greek legend), and between Sarah and Nephele, the wife of Athamas:

 

Abraham, Athamas and the Minyans

 http://www.hope-of-israel.org/minyans.html

 

Contents:

Minyans, Kurds, Armenians, and UR.

Thessalians.

Abraham and the Ram-Lamb?

The Almost-Consummated Sacrifice of the Son!

Competing Wives and their Allegorical Significance.

Isaac and the Mountain.

Different Hebrew Traditions Coalesced in Greek Mythology.

Minyans, Kurds, Armenians, and UR

 

Here I shall take what I would consider to be the most compelling comparisons in this article:

 

Abraham and the Ram-Lamb?

 

The Minyans, as Hurrians from Armenia, knew well the story of the Hebrew, Abraham, they called him Athamas. The Minyans most likely got their, only slightly tainted, version of the story, brought over by migrants from the area of Carchemish and therefore named its Greek colony at the city of Orchomenus (a plausible transliteration, and supposed by some to have been founded by Athamas himself) after the place. Even a cursory comparison of the two supposedly unrelated stories displays them as remarkably coincidental. Athamas began a movement toward, the abolition of, that age old and wide spread, religious concept, human sacrifice (as well as its companion tradition, cannibalism). Although we praise Abraham for his role in this abolition, it seems that some factions (mainly, the Achaeans) of the ancient Greeks, were of a different opinion. They considered their Abrahamic equivalent Athamas, and his descendants as well, to be cursed for their part in the civilizing of mankind (See Herodotus 7. 197 Athamas the son of Aeolus contrived death for Phrixus, having taken counsel with Ino, and after this how by command of an oracle the Achaeans propose to his descendants the following tasks to be performed: whosoever is the eldest of this race, he is brought forth to the sacrifice. This is done to the descendants of Kytissoros the son of Phrixus, because, he brought the wrath of the gods upon his own descendants.). In both cases, whether Scripture or myth, the abolition of human sacrifice in favor of animal sacrifice (the ram) is the obvious message of the story. Pausanias describes a statue depicting the sacrifice of this ram; “There is also a statue of Phrixus the son of Athamas carried ashore to the Colchians by the ram. Having sacrificed the animal, he has cut out the thighs in accordance with Greek custom and is watching them as they burn.” (Pausanias, Description of Greece 1. 24. 2) Take note of the Greek custom of cutting out the thighs as if to make the sacrifice Kosher. There is no doubt in my mind as to where they got such a notion.

 

The Almost-Consummated Sacrifice of the Son!

 

Intricate details of Abrahams life appear as parts of the Greek myth as well, I can’t think of another pair, of ancient stories which are so similar, and yet so seldom compared! Both Abraham and Athamas were divinely commanded to sacrifice, each their own son, with a knife on a mountain top, and each was about to comply when the child was saved, each by the miraculous appearance of a ram. The ram was considered to have been supplied by God, and was said to have been acceptable to Him as a replacement sacrifice instead of the son of man. … The symbol of the sacrificed lamb of god, appears in the Greek Myth, complete with an association to the Hebrew story of the garden of Eden, for the quest of the Argonauts, like the Biblical quest of all mankind, hangs in (nailed to) a tree, in a sacred grove, there is a serpent, and the way is guarded. Phrixos sacrificed the golden-fleeced ram to Zeus Phyxios, but gave its fleece to Aetes, who nailed it to an oak tree in a grove of Ares.” (See Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 80) “The fleece in Colchis and the apples of the Hesperides, since they seemed to be of gold, two serpents that never slept guarded and claimed as their own.” (Philostratus the Elder, Imagines 2. 17. 6) This association begs for the conclusion that these Greeks had some knowledge about the Hebrew concept of the original sin as well as the hopeful promise of the Messiah. No doubt they did, for they knew many intricate details of the Hebrew story, including the sophisticated religious symbolism inherent in the parable of

 

Abraham’s two wives.

 

Competing Wives and their Allegorical Significance.

 

Both Abraham, and Athamas, are said to have had a pair of competing wives each of whom were obvious allegories of differing religious concepts. Offspring was gotten from each of the wives, and the quarrel concerned, whose offspring, and their attending religious concept, would be favored, this is true in both stories. Ino is the Greek equivalent of Hagar from the Hebrew story, while Nephele is the counterpart of Sarah. Consider the Ino, Hagar identification first; The Greeks considered Ino to be the loser of the wifely quarrel, she was exiled and had to flee from her family home, with her half dead child in her arms, (Gen. 21:14,15) to the point of her death, when god intervened, granting Ino powerful miraculous abilities over water, thus saving the lives of Ino and her son Melicertes and appointing them to become great religious icons among the People who lived in the land of her exile, which we are told in the myth, was Corinth in Greece. Except for the location and names, all of these motifs are straight from the life of Hagar, who was looked upon as symbolic of earthly Zion, the covenant with slavery and death (Gal. 4 :22-31).

On the other hand, Sarah was symbolic of freedom, the Heavenly Zion, the wife of God (also in Gal. 4:22-31). Now, Consider the identification of Nephele with Sarah; Nephele was created as a duplicate of Hera, the heavenly wife of god, “Zeus formed a figure of Hera out of cloud (Nephele) (Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 69. 4) “a Cloud (Nephele)? its form was like the supreme celestial goddess, the daughter of Kronos. The hands of Zeus set it as a trap for him, a beautiful misery (Pindar, Pythian Ode 2. 32 ff). Zeus fashioned a Cloud (Nephele) to look like Hera (Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca E1. 20). Hers were the favored offspring, who were carried off to the Egyptian land, (That Colchis [in the Caucasus] was an Egyptian land we learn from Herodotus who says:

There can be no doubt that the Colchians are an Egyptian race. Before I heard any mention of the fact from others, I had remarked it myself. After the thought had struck me, I made inquiries on the subject both in Colchis and in Egypt, and I found that the Colchians had a more distinct recollection of the Egyptians, than the Egyptians had of them. Still the Egyptians said that they believed the Colchians to be descended from the [Egyptian] army of Sesostris (Herodotus Histories 2.104) from which they eventually had a miraculous epic deliverance (Argonautica). ….

 

 

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